White House Proposes Limits on Junk Food Marketing in Schools

USDA and White House partner on proposed 'school wellness' changes

Published on: Feb 26, 2014

Complimentary to other changes focusing on improving foods served in schools, First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday announced changes to school wellness plans that would limit in-school marketing of foods deemed unhealthy. The proposed changes would require that foods marketed in schools comply with school nutrition guidelines.

The changes to wellness policies fall under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which mandated that the USDA set guidelines for what needed to be included in local school wellness policies.

According to USDA, wellness policies must also address goals for nutrition education and physical activity and inform parents about content of the policy and implementation. Schools must also periodically assess policy progress and share updates as appropriate.

MORE SCHOOL CHANGES: First Lady Michelle Obama explains school wellness changes, Feb. 25, 2014. (USDA Photo)
MORE SCHOOL CHANGES: First Lady Michelle Obama explains school wellness changes, Feb. 25, 2014. (USDA Photo)

Part of the policy also addresses school snacking requirements as laid out in the Smart Snacks in School standards, released in 2013.

"The idea here is simple—our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren't bombarded with ads for junk food," the First Lady said. "When parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn't be undone by unhealthy messages at school."

Food marketing
The White House said the decision builds on comments from the First Lady at the White House Summit on Food Marketing to Children last fall, where Mrs. Obama called on the country to ensure children's health was not undermined by marketing of unhealthy food. 

Related: USDA Revamps School Snacking

"The food marketing and local wellness standards proposed today support better health for our kids and echo the good work already taking place at home and in schools across the country," explained Vilsack. "The new standards ensure that schools remain a safe place where kids can learn and where the school environment promotes healthy choices."