Texas schools already meet many new USDA nutritional requirements
Texas schools are well poised to meet the new nutrition requirements released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Bryan Black, director of communications with the Texas Department of Agriculture. Current state policy addressed nutrition standards before the federal government defined its own.
However, some new USDA requirements are more strict than current state policy. These new standards will mean changes for some schools and for industry to adjust to provide products that meet the requirements.
Sandra Hernandez, Cuero school district's food service director, and Dustin McHale, Victoria school district's assistant food service director, agreed that the replacement of sports drinks with fruit and vegetable beverages would be new to the nutritional program next year.
Both also noted a steady decline in food sales, a statewide trend, since the introduction of healthier foods to their schools.
The Texas Department of Agriculture is analyzing the new standards and will provide training and technical assistance to help schools comply, Black said.
In 2007, TDA established the Healthy Students = Healthy Families committee to advise on all aspects of the nutrition policy for Texas and public schools and on program administration issues. The committee includes nutritionists, health care professionals, food service professionals and educators and is working on various efforts related to nutrition in schools in Texas.