New Rules Ban Fried Snacks, Sugary Drinks In Mass. Schools

By Sarah Birnbaum

Jul. 13, 2011

Vending machines full of soda, chips and junk food will have to go dark in schools. New rules approved Wednesday ban fried food, sugary drinks and artifical sweeteners from public schools, but healthy foods can still be sold in vending machines and a la carte lines. (TiniSanto/Flickr)

BOSTON — Massachusetts school children will no longer be able to buy soda or chips from the vending machine.

On Wednesday, the state's Public Health Council passed new regulations banning fried food, sugary drinks and artifical sweeteners from public schools. They also put limits on the amount of salt and fat in foods.

The Massachusetts' Department of Public Health's Dr. Lauren Smith says one third of Massachusetts' schoolchildren are currently obese, and the new rules are meant to help counteract that problem.

"Because children spend so much time at school, and many children in fact eat 2 meals a day at school, these school nutrition standards will be important in creating the kind of environment that promotes healthy choices and helps kids learn how to make healthy choices," Smith said.

But she added school nutrition isn't the only way to counteract childhood obesity. 

"Schools aren’t going to be the only answer to addressing what is clearly a very important problem. But they clearly have to be part of the approach to the problem," Smith said.  

The rules apply to food sold in vending machines, snack bars and a la carte offerings in cafeterias. They do not apply to food served in the main cafeteria line, because those meals are regulated by the federal government.  

State officials say the new standars are some of the toughest in the country. They will go into effect in the 2012-2013 school year.

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