School Vending Machines Say Goodbye to Fritos, Oreos

Kids who crave corn chips and cookies had better dig in during summer vacation, because when they head back to school in the fall, many campuses will no longer be carrying the snack favorites.

July 1 marked the beginning of new nutritional guidelines under which items such as Fritos and Oreos will no longer be available in vending machines located on campuses which are part of the “Smart Snacks in School” program brought about by a collaboration of First Lady Michelle Obama and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), according to an article by Jessica Wohl of The Chicago Tribune.

The new USDA guidelines say that items sold in school vending machines or as a la carte items in the school cafeteria must: contain 200 calories or fewer; have no more than 230 mg of sodium; be primarily made of either fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein; or be “whole-grain rich”; or meet the minimum requirements for other nutritional necessities like Vitamin D, fiber or calcium.

According to exercise and diet website My Fitness Pal, a vending-machine size pack of Oreos has 250 calories and 250 mg of sodium, disqualifying it on both counts.

Companies that own and operate vending machines were not taken by surprise, as many students probably will be come the fall.

“We’ve had July 1 on our calendar for a long time,” said Daniel Stein, vice president and co-owner of Mark Vend Co., which operates about 2,000 vending machines in a roughly 65-mile radius of its Northbrook headquarters, including about 75 machines in high schools.

Stein said his company will no longer stock school vending machines with one of its best sellers, Frito-Lay’s Cheetos Oven Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheese Flavored Snacks. Stein said he expects companies to come up with new versions of popular snacks to meet the Smart Snacks standards.

Not all potato chips are being kicked to the curb, however. Baked Cheetos, which are 10% calcium, make the grade, as do Cheetos Fantastix Baked Snacks.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation maintains a website of what foods and snacks make the grade as permissible to be sold on school campuses. The database is broken down into multiple categories, including: bars, cereal, chips, cookies, brownies and other pastries, crackers, fruit, ice cream and novelties, muffins and loaves, nuts, popcorn, pretzels, trail mix and yogurt.

The site also has an app called the Alliance Product Calculator, which allows parents or children to enter in product information and see if any particular food item qualifies as a “Smart Snack”  under the new government regulations.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is a collaboration of The Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to combat childhood obesity.

Smart Snacks in Schools is a program born of The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, with the ambition of knocking out empty calories consumed from foods offered at school.