School district will not comply with state nutrition standards

The Wilton Public School District has signed this year’s Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)’s Healthy Food Certification Statement certifying that it will not comply with the Connecticut Nutrition Standards.

The reason for noncompliance is not because the food provided through the school district is “less than healthy,” Financial Director Richard Huot said at the Board of Education’s Sept. 22 meeting, but has more to do with “goods that come in for parties in schools” that don’t meet the standards.

“Trying to control that wasn’t very easy and sometimes counterproductive in our relationship with parents,” said Huot.

The Wilton school district has not complied with the standards for several years.

In 2014then-financial director Ken Post explained that although food items offered at Miller-Driscoll, Cider Mill and Middlebrook were in compliance with the state’s nutrition standards, items sold in the high school’s school store and at bake sales were not.

Each year, Connecticut public school districts like Wilton that participate in the National School Lunch Program are required to sign the Healthy Food Certification Statement, certifying whether or not they will follow the standards for all foods sold to students separately from reimbursable school meals.

The Connecticut Food Standards are based on nutrition science and national health recommendations from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and national health organizations, according to the CSDE, and focus on:

  • Moderating calories.

  • Limiting fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugars.

  • Eliminating trans fat.

  • Promoting more nutrient-dense foods.

Districts that certify compliance with the Connecticut Nutrition Standards each year receive reimbursement. During the 2013-14 school year, 12 of 33 Fairfield County school districts participated in the program.

The Connecticut Nutrition Standards groups foods into six categories: snacks, entrees, non-entree combination foods, fruits and vegetables, cooked grains, and soups.

Under the Connecticut Nutrition Standards, a food item must meet all of the nutritional standards for the specific food category to which it belongs, and meet at least one of three general standards in order to be sold to students:

  • Whole grain-rich foods.

  • Fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein foods must be the first ingredient.

  • Combination food that contains at least one-quarter cup of fruit and/or vegetable.

According to the CSDE, foods that do not meet the Connecticut Nutrition Standards may be sold to students on school premises if the local board of education votes to allow exemptions and the following conditions are met:

  • The sale is in connection with an event occurring after the end of the regular school day or on the weekend.

  • The sale is at the location of the event.

  • The foods are not sold from a vending machine or school store.

Click here t o learn more about the Healthy Food Certification program.