Recently introduced school vending machine regulations could remove sugar-laden beverages like cranberry juice and cocktails from high schools. In an attempt to help students make wise and easy nutritional choices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has adopted new nutritional standards for its National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.
While the standards increase whole grains, vegetables and fruits, they also limit sodium and sugar in the foods students can select to eat. First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack support these changes. They desire to provide students with a better selection of food choices.
The cranberry industry expresses concern over the proposed changes. The tart fruit offers immense health benefits. Cranberries prevent frequent urinary tract infections and protect cells against damage that could lead to cancer. In order for tart cranberries to taste delicious, however, they must be sweetened. Industry leaders worry that their fruit is receiving bad press and that consumers will judge the fruit based on the USDA’s regulations.
The fruit receives powerful advocacy from Senators John Kerry, D-Mass and Scott Brown, R-Mass and Representatives Bill Keating, D-Mass and Reid Ribble, R-Wis. Hailing from the U.S.’s top two cranberry producing states, the team met during the bipartisan Congressional Cranberry Caucus held recently on Capitol Hill. They and other industry advocates hope to convince the USDA, the First Lady and consumers that cranberries should be the exception to the USDA’s nutritional standards.