Foodfacts.com has learned that, starting the first day of school in 2011 students in Windsor, Ontario, Canada will face a total ban on the sale of candy, chocolate, pop, fries and energy drinks on school property, the province has announced.
In making the announcement on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Education, MPP Pat Hoy (L — Chatham-Kent-Essex) said the ban addresses an increasing trend of 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 per cent of our students, between two and 17, are overweight or obese,” said 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 elementary students.
A government background paper says fewer than half of Ontario’s high school age students eat the recommended daily minimum of fruits and vegetables.
“The nutrition standards will make it easier for schools to determine which foods they can and cannot sell,” said Hoy. “Fully 80 per cent 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 fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads. Only 20 per cent 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 Catholic school board, said educators have known the ban was coming for more than a year and have been adjusting menus accordingly. He said administrators met with the cafeteria contractors last week and were assured “everything possible” will be done 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.”
He said organizers may have to come up more creative ideas for fundraising.
Iatonna said he didn’t have the numbers at his fingertips but such promotions activities raise a “significant amount” of cash for school projects such as field trips.
Warren Kennedy, director of the public board, said the ban is in the children’s best interests.
“We will have to have an information and education program at school and at home to accomplish what the ministry hopes to accomplish,” he said.
Public board Trustee Julia Burgess was less impressed.
“It makes me think of forbidden fruit,” she said. ‘We can’t police what kids bring in their lunch box. Parents still have the opportunity to place healthy food or anything else in there. And students of a certain age can travel anywhere they want outside of school to get their snacks.”