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School Nutrition Conference Featured Lots of Junk Food

The 68th Annual National Conference of the School Nutrition Association took place this week in Boston and, surprisingly, it featured a lot of junk food. According to Time, while there was some healthy food — like a vending machine filled with healthful snacks and fruits and vegetables — present at the conference in Boston, the sheer number of junk food name brands that were represented was notable and a bit shocking. Public health lawyer Michele Simon tweeted out a series of photos of vendors present at the event including Dominos, plates of french fries "from [the] potato lobby," and the Cheetos mascot. Also present were snacks like Cocoa Puffs cereal bars and Chex Mix which are all apparently compliant with USDA guidelines.

Time notes that the School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a "national organization of school nutrition professionals" that are lobbying for schools to be able to opt out of lunch requirements that are "too restrictive and costly." The New York Times writes that in 2012, the Obama administration "announced long award changes" to the school lunch program requiring more fruits and vegetables and the SNA initially supported it. Now, however, the Spokesman-Review writes that the SNA wants schools to be "granted waivers from the federal law" because the "cost of using more fruits and vegetables is too high." The SNA also accepts sponsorship money from food companies which has lead some members to voice their criticism and resign.

Alice Waters and many others in the food world have been advocating for changes to the school lunch program for years now. Chef Tom Colicchio appeared before the House Education & Labor Committee to support increasing funding for school meals. British chef Jamie Oliver has been a full blown school lunch crusader with his show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, centered on changing school lunch programs in America.

· There's Junk Food at the School Nutrition Conference [Time]
· Smaller School Districts Adapting Best [Spokesman-Review]
· Nutrition Group Lobbies Against Healthier School Meals [NYT]
· All School Lunch Coverage on Eater [-E-]