Many students in Kane County looking to satisfy their hunger by getting a candy bar at their school’s vending machine are out of luck.
Since October 2006, state law has banned any foods that have more than 35 percent of their calories from fat from elementary and middle school vending machines.
School districts in Kane County also are trying to limit student access to vending machines. There are no vending machines in elementary schools in Batavia School District 101, said Kris Monn, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance.
And the vending machines at Rotolo Middle School in Batavia are on a timer to restrict access during the school day. After the school day has ended, students have access only to beverages and foods that meet the nutritional guidelines established by the government.
“They are healthier types of snacks and not any pop,” Monn said.
At St. Charles School District 303, vending machines are in the teachers’ lounges at the elementary and middle schools, said Seth Chapman, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services/chief financial officer.
“I think childhood obesity is an issue we have to be focused on,” Chapman said. “I think the state and federal government are doing what they can. We want to make sure we are providing the right things for the students and are complying with state and federal programs.”
Chapman said he doesn’t know yet how the United States Agriculture Department’s new “Smart Snacks in School” standards will affect the district.
The new rules, announced in June, require the U. S. Agriculture Department to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, beyond the federally supported meals programs.
School districts will have a year to comply with the new rules, which mandate several requirements. Any food sold in a school must be a “whole grain-rich” grain product; or have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product or a protein food; or be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or contain 10 percent of the daily value of one of the nutrients – calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber – of public health concern in the 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans.
The rules also will apply only to foods sold on campus during the school day. Food sold at after-school events will not be subject to the new rules.