-Courtesy of (KNWA/KFTA)
March 4, 2022- The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and Farmington Public Schools are working together to create healthier meals and eating environments for students.
According to a press release, the school district recently updated and strengthened its wellness policy to increase whole grains in meals, prioritize Arkansas-grown produce and products and prominently display healthy food choices like fresh fruits and vegetables to encourage healthier eating among students.
The school made the changes after the UAMS Office of Community Health and Research (UAMS CHR) Healthy Food Systems team assessed the district’s current standards and made recommendations using the “Creating Healthy Policies in Schools: Healthy Foods Toolkit.” The updated policy includes seven new standards:
- Meals sold to students during the school day and during after-school programs must be at least 51% whole grains, as specified by USDA guidelines.
- Meals sold to students must contain no more than 10% of calories from added sugars, following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- School meals will include Arkansas-grown food that is processed and packaged by companies committed to sustainable practices
- USDA Smart Snacks standards for beverages sold in elementary and middle schools shall also be applied in high schools, and beverages containing caffeine will not be sold on the high school campus.
- Meals and snacks sold to students will not contain artificial sweeteners.
- Meals and snacks sold to students will not contain dyes.
- The healthiest options, such as salads and fruit, will be prominently displayed in the cafeterias to encourage students to make healthier food decisions.
“We not only want to feed students, we want to help them make healthy food choices,” said Farmington School District Child Nutrition Director Wendy Burrus.
UAMS has worked with Farmington Public Schools for the last three years as part of the CDC’s Sodium Reduction in Communities Program and Creating Healthy Environments for Schools (CHEFS) program. To learn more about the CHR Healthy Food Systems projects, visit nwa.uams.edu/chr/healthyfoods.