Study hall is no place for junk food, Clinton says

Five snackmakers agree to work with schools to keep unhealthy treats off campus under a deal brokered by the former president. But some say the plan falls short.

Published October 7, 2006

NEW YORK - In some schools, ever on the watch for unhealthy junk food, students may have to do some extra walking to find their favorite candy bar thanks to the latest nutrition deal struck by former President Bill Clinton.

But then again, they may not.

The new deal was lauded by some as a good effort and criticized by others as toothless.

Five big makers of snack foods who agreed to the plan said Friday that they would discourage schools from stocking vending machines with treats that are high in calories, fat, sugar and salt.

The companies - Kraft Foods Inc., Mars Inc., Campbell Soup Co., Dannon and PepsiCo Inc. - agreed to instead begin promoting snacks that meet new nutrition guidelines backed by the American Heart Association.

"This is voluntary; they don't have to do it," Clinton acknowledged, speaking of the companies and the schools. "But they recognize the challenge we face and they are helping us take the first step."

For some of the companies - whose treats include M&M's, yogurt, granola bars and Frito-Lay potato chips - that will mean reformulating some products or introducing new lines of healthier snacks for kids.

For others, it will mean urging schools to buy healthy, rather than cater to student cravings.

The initiative got mixed reviews from those worried about what kids eat.

Janey Thornton, president of the School Nutrition Association and a child nutrition director in Kentucky, called the program commendable, but said it shouldn't be seen as a substitute for federal legislation enacting stronger health standards for school food.

"It has to have some enforcement behind it," she said.


THROW OUT THE JUNK: Five big snack food makers will discourage schools from stocking fatty, sugary, salt-laden treats in a deal negotiated by former President Bill Clinton.

TRIM THE FAT: Food marketed to schools will have no more than 35 percent of their calories from fat. Non-nutritious snacks in elementary schools would be limited to 150 calories or less.

STUDENTS WON'T STARVE: The companies already have products that meet the guidelines, like baked chips and reduced-sugar chewy bars.