Is the School Nutrition Association Really the “Leading Defender of Junk Food?”

NOMOREbigfood.jpgCaring about what our children eat in school means caring about the School Nutrition Association (SNA)—but not for the reasons you might think. While SNA may have started as an organization that promotes healthy food for kids, it is now often accused of being a mouthpiece for the Big Food industry’s overly processed, overly salted, overly sugared food.  Despite their paltry efforts to dissuade us from thinking otherwise, we are over it!

Author, scientist and educator Marion Nestle is, too. A perennial critic of the SNA, Nestle recently listed SNA’s most recent recommendations that weaken the movement toward healthy school lunches:

  • Stop requiring fruits and vegetables to be served with every meal.

  • Don’t require so much whole grain.

  • Back off on lower sodium.

  • Allow any junk food to be part of the reimbursable meal.

  • Allow any junk food to be sold in competition with school meals.

Her roundup includes Nancy Huehnergarth’s recent Huffington Post article explaining the blatant presence of Big Food corporations at SNA’s annual conference. And she includes two pieces of news contrary to the SNA’s suspicious work: Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association, recently gave a response to the SNA’s position paper in which he expressed his dismay over some of their recommendations; and a recent report from the The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) finds that it has been the increased prices of school lunches that have caused a decline in school lunch sales (not the increased amount of healthy food in school lunches, as the SNA likes to argue). 

Nestle states:

The SNA ought to be the strongest advocate for healthier school meals.  It’s a tragedy that this organization has become the leading defender of junk food.”

As big food businesses try to keep control over our kids’ bellies, healthier meals school meals are not losing every battle. This recent USDA Fact Sheet on the Health and Hunger Free Kids Act (Michelle Obama’s answer to healthier school lunches), as well as organizations like Healthy School Campaigns, provide a lot of hope for this struggle.

Image courtesy of Wellness Warrior Team 


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson


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