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State-mandated wellness policy now in place at Tyrone Area School District

The Tyrone Area School Board passed a state-mandated wellness policy earlier this month and the high school’s nurse Julie Patton said she expects one of the changes to “most impact” the district’s high school students. The change relates to the type of beverages that can be carried onto or consumed on district property.
Students will be returning to school on Tuesday and will have to deal with the requirements of the new policy.
The policy states, “no beverage other than water, milk or fruit juice may be carried onto or consumed on district property by any student during the instructional day.”
In a release to The Daily Herald, Patton said, “That means coffee and soda may not be consumed as students enter school in the morning and no soda, tea, etc. may be packed to be consumed in the cafeteria. Soda, water, sports drink, juice and milk will continue to be available after school via vending machines.”
Patton said, “Districts throughout the state were required to have such a (wellness) policy in place this summer. This is, of course, a response to the national focus on the issue of childhood obesity.”
Patton noted, “Tyrone (Area School District) was actually ahead of schedule in developing this policy. We already had a preliminary version of the policy in place and began implementing the nutritional components of the policy more than a year ago.
“The elementary students and their parents may already be aware of changes related to classroom parties, foods brought in from home and non-food classroom rewards like stickers instead of candy,” said Patton.
Foods at classroom parties contain less sugar and feature more fruits, vegetables and water. No chocolate or peanut butter may be brought in from home because of food allergies.
“High school students and their parents are probably more familiar with changes in a la carte foods and beverage changes,” said Patton
Those changes included fewer French fries that are deep-fat fried on site, snack cakes and cookies that are lower in fat/sugar, more pretzels and baked chips. Beverage changes include an emphasis on water, low-fat milk, 100 percent fruit juice with less soda and iced tea.
Patton also noted vending machines now offer water, juice and milk.
She said, “The food items offered through fundraising and in concession stands operated by booster organizations have changed just a bit, with more healthy options available at concessions.”
Patton summed up the changes by saying, “For the upcoming school year, we’ll be doing a bit more of the same- taking things another step further.”
Some of the changes include nutritional guidelines for a la carte foods:
• At least 50 percent of grains offered will be whole grains. A minimum of two fruits and two vegetables will be offered daily;
• No foods will be deep-fried on-site at the elementary and middle schools. Foods fried on-site will be offered no more than one to two times per week and
• A minimum of 75 percent of the items will contain less than 35 percent of calories from total fat, less than 10 percent from saturated fat, less than 35 percent sugar by weight and minimal to no trans fatty acids. The policy does provide for a number of exceptions.
The new policy also highlights changes for a la carte beverages including a minimum of 75 percent (100 percent for grades K through grade 4) of the beverages offered will be unflavored water for middle/high school students (any size) and a smaller portion for elementary students.
The policy also offers the same minimum requirements for 100 percent fruit juice, flavored water for the middle school/high school and 1 percent low fat or nonfat milk.
Non-vending fundraising policy changes include the barring of consumption of candy during the school day through fundraising. Solicitation will be permitted during non-instructional times for school-sponsored fundraising only.
The change regarding beverages being brought and/or consumed on school property during the instructional day is also noted in the 2006-07 high school student handbook.
The compete wellness policy is available on the district’s web site at www.tyrone.k12.pa.us.