The State of Texas has long been a leader in school nutrition policy by limiting the use of deep fat fryers, carbonated beverages, and unhealthy food fundraisers in our schools. Today, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced updates to Texas’ school nutrition policy, which roll back years of progress in the work to reduce childhood obesity by allowing these items back in our schools. The American Heart Association (AHA) is disappointed that Commissioner Miller has chosen not to uphold these standards. On behalf of Texas students, we ask him to reconsider this decision and be a leader in safeguarding the health of all school children.
Commissioner Miller’s attempt at addressing childhood obesity is well intentioned, but it fails to align with evidence based policies that are supported by the AHA and have been a main component in reversing this epidemic such as keeping fried foods and sodas out of reach from our children. Local districts have embraced the previous rules established by the State of Texas, and we applaud their foresight in keeping schools healthy. We appeal to these local school districts and ask them to maintain proven public policies that ensure our students are healthy, focused, and ready to learn in school and in the future. Easy access to high-calorie, low-nutrition foods and beverages at school will not move Texas in the right direction.
Strong education standards go hand-in-hand with a nurturing, safe and health promoting environment. Given that many students consume almost 50 percent of their daily calories during the school day, Texas must ensure that students have access to healthy foods to nourish their minds and fuel their pursuit of excellent educational outcomes.
Additionally, most parents favor nutrition standards for all food served in schools. In a national poll, 72 percent of parents favor nutrition standards for school meals and school snacks. Parents trust that schools will complement and support their efforts to promote healthy habits and appreciate schools’ efforts to create and maintain healthy school food environments.
 The Pew Charitable Trusts, Kids’ Safe and Healthy Foods Project. “Parents Support Healthier School Food Policies by 3-to-1 Margin.” Available at: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/press-releases/2014/09/08/parents-support-healthier-school-food-policies-by-3to1-margin. Accessed on June 17, 2015.