Ontario schools prepare for junk food ban
NationalPost.com – Life – Ontario schools prepare for junk food ban
Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010. Don Lajoie, Canwest News Service
WINDSOR, Ont. — Ontario students will no longer be able to buy candy, chocolate, pop, fries and energy drinks on school property starting in September 2011, the provincial government announced on Wednesday.
Making the announcement on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Education, MPP Pat Hoy said the decision was meant to curb the increase in overweight children making bad health choices.
He said the goal, ultimately, is to save the province money in future health costs.
“Studies show that 28% of our students, between two and 17, are overweight or obese,” said Mr. Hoy. “Naturally, that’s not a good state to be in, leading to all sorts of health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
“We would like to do something about it. Also, good nutrition seems to be a significant factor in how well children do in school.”
Hoy said the new nutrition standards, which will be mandatory across the province by Sept. 1, 2011, will be covered under the Health Food For Schools Act, which also requires 20 minutes of daily activity for pupils in the elementary grades.
A government background paper states that fewer than half of the province’s high school age students eat the recommended daily minimum of fruit and vegetables.
“The nutrition standards will make it easier for schools to determine which foods they can and cannot sell,” said Mr. Hoy. “Fully 80% of the new school menu must include products with the highest levels of essential nutrients and the lowest amounts of fat, sugar and sodium.”
He said those replacement items may include more fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grain breads.
Only 20% of the menu can include products with slightly higher amounts of fat, sugar and sodium, such as bagels and cheese.
Mario Iatonna, superintendent of business for the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, said that education officials have known the ban was coming for more than a year and have been adjusting menus accordingly, phasing in healthier choices with reduced sugar and fat for several years.
He said board administrators met with the cafeteria contractors last week and they were assured they will do “everything possible” to meet the standards.
“We fully intend to comply but it’s difficult,” said Iatonna. “We can control what goes into the cafeteria and the vending machines but fundraising events for student council and parent groups may be more difficult to police. We have 50 schools and there are a lot of fundraisers.”
Canwest News Service
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