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Lawrence schools eyeing new snack food guidelines

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Lawrence school officials say they are reviewing new federal guidelines governing snack food sold in vending machines at public schools to see if any changes need to be made in local policies.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced new guidelines meant to ensure that vending machines include healthy choices. The new guidelines will take effect in the 2014-15 school year.

Among other things, the "Smart Snacks in School" nutrition standards limit the calorie, fat and sodium content of items sold in vending machines and require that those items meet certain nutritional benchmarks.

Last year, the agency began implementing similar nutritional standards for meals served in school cafeterias. But health experts have argued that the vending machines in school often compete for students' business.

Lawrence school district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said the district last updated its vending machine policy in 2006, and that the district's food service officials are looking at the new standards to see if any "tweaks" need to be made.

The policies adopted in 2006 include:

• Foods with no more than 4 grams of fat per 100 calories, except nuts or seeds

• Foods with no more than 9 grams of sugar per 100 calories, except fruit without added sugar

• Foods with no more than 200 calories per serving.

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