A USDA Report to Congress found that "competitive foods"-those available in schools in addition to USDA-provided school meals-have lower nutritional quality than school meals. These foods may contribute to overconsumption of food energy, dietary fat, saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium, and underconsumption of calcium, fiber, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Restricting the availability of less nutritious foods, taxing such foods, and improved marketing of more nutritious food choices have been proposed as policy changes, and in some cases have been tested in individual States and districts. This issue brief reviews current information on the growth and impact of competitive foods, and presents an Economic Research Service case study on competition between soft drinks and milk in particular.


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