The Lawrence school board is considering a new policy that could cut into some fundraising activities like bake sales and pizza parties.
The policy would prohibit the sale of "competitive foods" — defined as any food or beverage service available to students that is separate and apart from the district’s nonprofit federally reimbursed food service program — from being sold at the same time schools are serving breakfast or lunch.
District officials say it's intended to address direct competition — pizza being sold when the cafeteria is serving pizza, or cake slices for sale when there's cake in the cafeteria. But the initial draft of the policy, which the board could vote to approve Feb. 10, would appear to apply to any type of food or beverage that's being offered at the same time as school meals.
In fact, districts throughout the United States are now looking at similar policies since the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed new Smart Snacks in School guidelines about food sold in school vending machines, snack bars and other venues.
Lawrence officials, however, noted that Free State High School and South Middle School are the only school buildings in the district that have vending machines, and those are already turned off during breakfast and lunch periods.
And those machines already comply with the proposed federal guidelines, which ban certain kinds of junk foods and beverages that are high in sugar, salt or fat, while encouraging healthier options like fresh fruit, whole grains, juices and bottled water.
The proposed district policy would not affect food that students bring from home for their own consumption. It would also continue to allow snack foods and other items to be sold during nonmeal periods, or during nonschool hours. It also would not affect concessions sold at sporting events, plays or other after-school activities.
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.