New nutrition standards are making it difficult for schools in McDowell and across the nation to stock vending machines used during school hours.

Recently released Smart Snacks in Schools Nutrition Standards, which are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, limit the amount of calories, fat, sugar and sodium that snack items can contain.

“With the smart snack standards, there’s a breakdown of what age groups can have certain items,” said Director of Child Nutrition Jonathan Haynes. “Things have been really tightened down and drinks as well as snacks are affected.”

Currently, vending machines at East McDowell Middle School, West McDowell Middle School and McDowell High School are sitting empty because standards were released so late in the summer, giving child nutrition little time to come up with alternatives to items they had previously made available to students.

“We’re actively trying to come up with products that are going to meet the requirements, but that are also products that our students want to buy,” said Haynes. “(The new standards) tighten down the calorie restrictions of what snacks can be offered at all grade levels. The no-bake cookies that we’ve previously served do not meet the requirements.”

Haynes stated that child nutrition was currently working with vendors to see what items would meet the new requirements and be cost-effective to students. He also stated that baked goods in each cafeteria were being reformulated to meet the new standards so that kids would soon have back some of the snack items that aren’t currently available,

“We’re working through this and we hope to have more snacks available to them,” said Haynes. “We’re trying to come up with products and scratch-baked goods as additional items in the cafeteria and still stay within those restrictions.”