It’s Time for the State Board of Education to Revise School Food Standards

April 05, 2007

by Rochelle Davis, HSC Executive Director

Until very recently in Illinois, food from vending machines, schools stores or the a la carte cafeteria line was not subject to nutrition guidelines. Leaders in Illinois have put the wheels in motion to improve access to healthier foods at school. 

In October of 2006, the Illinois State Board of Education adopted nutrition standards for foods served outside the National School Lunch Program at elementary and middle schools. Healthy Schools Campaign encourages ISBE to ensure that all grammar and middle schools are informed about and have the information they need to implement those standards.

Back in 2005, the Illinois School Wellness Policy Task Force was given the mandate to develop nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. These recommendations (PDF), which include guidelines for food served in elementary, middle and high schools (where access to unhealthy food is greatest) were presented in January of 2007.

The rules adopted in October of last year state that ISBE “shall initiate a revision to the food and beverage standards …” when the Illinois School Wellness Policy Task Force releases its recommendations. Now that the task force recommendations are available, it’s time for ISBE to revisit and expand the rules to include the task force recommendations, which are greater in scope and were created with more stakeholder engagement.

In addition, we encourage ISBE to begin the rules-making process based on the recommendations of the School Wellness Policy Task Force so that these regulations can be in place for the 2008-2009 school year.