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Carrots, celery and football!

March 25, 2009
State Rep. Lance Horbach, R-Tama

I had a frantic parent contact me, telling me that her school will no longer allow pop to be sold at their sports' concession stands. She wanted to know what stupid law we passed was responsible for this change? (Paraphrasing her comment)

Wellthe new law is the Healthy Kids Act. The Department of Education offered a stand-alone bill last session to require 30 minutes of activity for students and nutritional standards throughout the school day. There were so many amendments to the bill which caused it to die during the committee process. The Chairman of the Human Resources Appropriations Committee, however, agreed to stick the language in the 150-page appropriation bill and it went through with little debate. The Healthy Kids Act itself is not a bad concept; after all, who doesn't want kids to be more active and eat right, thus becoming healthier? The problem arises when you give the Department of Education the authority to right the rules! Here are examples of what they proposed to the legislative Rules Committee for approval:

Under the proposed rules the following food items are BANNED after July 1::

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Soda - "None are to be made available during the school day."

Water with "nonnutritive sweeteners"

Garden salad served with lite ranch dressing

Terra Sweet Potato Chips

2 ounce homemade cookie with whole wheat flour, real butter and molasses

Fruit juice with any added sweetener.

Fruit juice if more than 4 ounces in elementary school. Middle and high school kids are limited to 10 ounces. After 2014 this drops to 8 ounces.

But these highly processed items CAN be sold:

1.2 ounce bag of baked potato chips. (Ingredient list: dehydrated potato flakes, modified food starch, sugar, corn oil, salt, soy lechiten, monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, dextrose)

1.15 ounce Snicker cookies

100 calorie Packs of Honey Maid Cinnamon Thin Crisps

Sports drinks 12 ounce limit for elementary; unlimited for middle and high school

The proposed rules say:

50% of the grains offered must be whole grains or provide at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.

Not more 35% of the calories from sugar

Not more than 35% of the calories in total fat

Not more than 10% of the calories contain saturated fat

Not more than 0.5 grams of trans fat calories

Back to the frantic parent.The rules were NOT approved and the Department of Education was sent home with the understanding that they return with more realistic nutritional ideas. These rules DO NOT apply to concession stands, rewards given by teachers, or fundraising sales. Why am I concerned? After the Department of Education gets these rules in place, they will be working to apply them to concession stands! Can you imagine going to a rival football game and during half-time enjoying conversation about the game while eating a bowl of carrots, celery and unsweetened apple juice?

If you have a concern about the rules, contact Julia Thorius at the Iowa Department of Education's Bureau of Nutrition and Health. Julia is taking public comments and her e-mail address is:



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