New federal limits to school snacks could force cuts in lunchrooms

Smart Snacks In Schools will launch nationwide on July 1 and will put more limitations on amounts of sugar, salt and calories in cafeteria snack items.

MIDDLETON, Wis.—A federal program aimed at getting kids to eat healthier snacks could force cuts in certain districts’ lunchrooms.

Susan Peterson is in charge of nutrition for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District. Peterson said the effects of the Smart Snacks In Schools program will have a much greater impact on her lunch line and her bottom line.

Peterson estimated the changes will lead to a $100,000 structural deficit for the food services sector, thanks to the impact they will have on her al a carte items.

“These programs are a rare opportunity to give kids a look at what a balanced meal looks like with fruits and vegetables and milk in an appropriate portion size for their age. But I can't provide that for them if I can't keep them in my lunch line,” Peterson said.

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Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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