USDA: Candy Bars and French Fries Are Not Junk Food

Which of the following is considered a junk food according to national school nutrition standards?

A. Hi-C Blast – vitamin fortified sugar water
B. Poland Springs seltzer water – water with bubbles
C. French fries
D. Candy Bars

If you guessed A, C or D you’d be wrong.  Believe it or not, seltzer water is the only item on this list banned as a junk food because it doesn’t contain any vitamins or minerals. Yup, french fries, candy bars, and Hi-C aren’t officially considered junk food.  That’s just crazy when you consider that children ages 6-11 are four times more likely to be obese than children were a generation ago.1 Four times!  Today nearly one-third of all children are overweight or obese, placing them at heightened risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and many other serious diseases.2


Time for an update! Sign our petition today — it will be hand delivered to Members of Congress June 24th:

The petition says: “Please update outdated nutrition standards immediately to ensure our schools provide healthy food for our children!”

In what universe are candy bars NOT junk food?  The USDA’s school nutrition standards were developed in the 1970’s and are no longer consistent with nutrition science or current concerns regarding childhood health. For example, USDA does not consider candy bars, snack cakes, or french fries to be junk foods in schools.  USDA standards don’t even address calories, saturated, and trans fats or sodium.

Right now Congress is discussing ways to reduce health care costs in America. Improving nutrition in schools is one no-brainer answer.

Sign on our petition and we’ll get it delivered to the U.S. Capitol next week.  June 24th is Capitol Hill Advocacy Day for our friends at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  They’ve offered to deliver our petition along with your comments to our leaders in D.C. In fact, they have already arranged breakfast, lunch and meetings in-between with members of Congress on the Hill.  Let’s make sure they have a huge number of names signed onto the petition along with comments from us to deliver!  Our voices are key to letting Congress know that mothers and fathers care deeply about making sure our children can eat healthy food at school.

Sign the petition today!

*Can you also forward this email to five of your friends so they can sign too? The more signatures, we have, the more Congress will get the message that our children deserve healthy food.

Thank you for speaking up for all our kids,

— Joan, Kristin Mary, Donna, Sarah and the whole team

P.S. Want to go help present these petitions on June 24th? Or learn more about the Child Nutrition Promotion and school food?

1,2 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Statement Regarding Release of Estimates of Obesity Prevalence Among U.S. Children and Teens,, Beyond Health Care – New Directions to a Healthier America, Robert Wood Johnson Commission to Build a Healthier America, p. 7.

“We believe that federally funded nutrition programs should provide all children with the healthy food they deserve. This includes low fat and safe dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Schools should be soda and junk-food-free zones and serve food that complements and furthers parents’ efforts to feed their children healthfully.”

Obama’s New Chef Skewers School Lunches

Somebody certainly ought to.

“…During weekly Tuesday gatherings at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, Mr. Kass hosted “Rethinking Soup,” which he described as “a communal event where we will eat delicious, healthy soup and have fresh, organic conversation about many of the urgent social, cultural, economic and environmental food issues that we should be addressing.”

Sam Kass

Sam Kass

In May, over a meal of locally-produced beef and barley soup, Mr. Kass lamented the sorry state of the National School Lunch Program, which provides low-cost or free lunches to schoolchildren. He noted that what gets served up to kids is influenced by government agricultural subsidies. As a result, he says, meals served to students are low in vegetables and disproportionately high in fat, additives, preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup…”

[Full story]

So, Secretary Vilsack,  please do let us know what you intend to do about this, and when.

The Organic Consumers Fund, Organic Consumers Association’s partner for legislative and electoral advocacy, has a new graduate student intern, Chantal Wei-Ying Clement, who is working on our Appetite for a Change campaign, lobbying Congress for healthy local and organic food to be included in the Child Nutrition Act. Read Chantal’s first report reviewing the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for updating the school lunch and breakfast programs. What changes would you make to school food? Write to Congress.

By the way, how many children of US senators and representatives do you think participate in the public school lunch program?