Last week, the American Heart Association was a part of two national announcements regarding nutrition and the community. On Thursday, Jan. 20, Wal-Mart announced a new comprehensive nutrition strategy for its packaged foods. The program includes five elements:
- Reformulating thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015 by reducing sodium 25 percent and added sugars 10 percent, and by removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats
- Making healthier choices more affordable
- Developing strong criteria for a simple front-of-package seal
- Providing solutions to address food deserts by building stores in underserved communities
- Increasing charitable support for nutrition programs
Watch a webcast of the announcement, see pictures and find out more about this initiative here.
On Jan. 21, a press conference was held to announce a new multi-industry voluntary agreement by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation that brings together leading food manufacturers, group purchasing organizations and technology companies to help America’s schools serve healthier meals at more affordable prices. As a result of these agreements, more than 30 million students across the country will have access to healthier school meals – including at least 14 million students who currently participate in the free and reduced lunch program.
Manufacturers including AdvancePierre Foods, Domino’s Pizza, JTM Food Group, McCain Foods USA, Rich Products Corporation, Schwan’s Food Service and Trident Seafoods pledge not to price healthy options out of reach of school cafeterias. Signatories will set prices for healthier items that meet the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s science-based standards for nutrition at prices no higher than less healthy comparable products. Participating manufacturers have also pledged to increase the sales of compliant products by to least 50 percent of their entire school sales within five years.
Manufacturers have committed to aggressively promote products that align with the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program standards and will help schools meet or exceed the requirements currently being finalized by the USDA. Product commitments fall in at least one of the following categories within the Alliance’s science-based guidelines for school foods:
- Lean protein products, such as lean red meat, skinless poultry, lean deli meats, fat-free or low-fat cheese, beans, and tofu.
- Low-fat lunch entrées with reduced total fat, saturated fat and sodium levels.
- Whole-grain products, such as bread, pasta and pizza crust.
- Fresh, canned or frozen fruit.
- Non-fried vegetables.
- Zero trans fat cooking oils.
In order to help schools take the first step in changing their purchasing process, the Alliance is collaborating with the technology firm Interflex to create an online tool that streamlines the procurement process by assisting schools with planning, bidding and purchasing healthier products. Dole Food Company, Inc. and the National Turkey Federation have also agreed to leverage their tools and resources to support schools in their implementation of this new approach to school meals.
Additional components in the Alliance’s school meals strategy to support food service professionals being launched over the next year will include in-person and online training programs, menu planning and cooking techniques and recipes from celebrity chefs to school food service staff.