TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner welcomed final legislative approval today of her bill that would enforce sensible school nutrition standards and help New Jersey “win the battle of the bulge among our children.”
The measure, S-1218, would ban the sale or donation of soda, gum and most candy as well as food listing sugar as a first ingredient on school grounds before the end of the school day. It passed the Senate last February by a vote of 33-0 and likewise was approved by a vote of 64-11 in the Assembly today.
“Children are tempted every day by tons of high-sugar, high-fat junk food,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer, and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Those temptations should end at the school steps. School cafeterias and vending machines must be shining examples of good nutrition and healthy eating.”
The bill would codify State regulations adopted last year and set to be implemented for the start of the school year in September of 2007. The rules will force schools to reduce the purchase of foods containing trans fats and would ban foods defined as having “minimal nutritional value.”
All snack and beverage items sold during the school day in cafeterias and vending machines could contain no more than 8 grams of fat per saving. Elementary schools would have to serve beverages of milk, water or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice.
“We’re never going to be able to get our kids to give up junk food completely. But our schools should not allow them to load up on sugar products to the neglect of good nutrition,” Senator Turner said.
Senator Turner also assured parents that “The rules and this bill won’t force the various to give up their candy sale fundraisers because the restrictions would only apply during school hours.”
Senator Turner said the time allotted before the 2007 school year kicks in will give both students and school administrators the opportunity to devise healthy substitutes for junk food.