School Nutrition Policy Calirfications
Texas Public School Nutrition Policy Clarifications
Updated August 26, 2004
The Texas Department of Agriculture issued the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy, which was effective beginning August 1, 2004. Now that school has started, there have been a number of questions and comments concerning the intent of various sections of the policy. We appreciate the input and feedback from parents, teachers, and administrators and are providing the following clarifications to assist Texas school districts in understanding and implementing the policy.
The health of our children is of utmost importance to all of us, and we believe these clarifications will help improve nutrition while at the same time recognizing the vital role parents play in the education of their children.
1. Classroom birthday parties
TDA recognizes that celebrating student birthdays with a classroom party is a time-honored tradition that provides the opportunity for parental involvement in the education of their children, which is beneficial for students, parents and teachers. Foods otherwise restricted by the policy are permitted in classroom student birthday parties. It is recommended such parties be scheduled after the end of the lunch period for the class so that these celebrations will not replace a nutritious lunch. Federal regulations do not permit foods of minimal nutritional value to be served in the food service area during meal periods.
2. Competitive foods for elementary schools
The competitive foods policy section for elementary schools states that it does "not pertain to food items made available by the school food service department." This does not mean, however, that dessert-type items (cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, etc.) are allowable outside meal hours simply if provided by the food service department. The intent of the policy is to encourage the consumption of nutritious food by students and to limit access to high-fat, high-sugar items during the school day. Therefore, the only food that may be made available to elementary school students on campus during the school day, at times other than meal periods, is a nutritious classroom snack allowed by the policy. This does not apply to student birthday parties or any other exemption as established by the policy.
3. Fundraising activities for elementary and middle schools
The policy only applies to food and beverages consumed during the school day for elementary schools, during meal periods for middle schools, and during meal periods in the food service area for high schools. The school or school approved organizations may take orders or sell vouchers during the school day for candy or other restricted items and deliver these items after the end of the school day. Students may order or purchase such items during the school day as long as they receive the items after the school day ends.
4. Pizza parties, etc.
The intent of the policy is to encourage the consumption of nutritious, well-balanced meals and to limit the availability of high-fat items during the school day. There has been confusion about pizza or other foods being served at school parties. With the exception of school birthday parties, schools may not allow alternative meals (pizza, BBQ, sandwiches, etc.) to be provided to students in competition with meals made available by the school food service department under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. However, such items may be provided if they are supplemented with additional food provided by food service to become a reimbursable meal. This allows the addition of fruits and vegetables for a complete nutritious meal as well as providing federal reimbursement funds to the school.