When school begins again in August, one thing will be missing from snacks sold at school sites and athletic events: pickles.
Rhonda Kerns, Tahlequah Public Schools Child Nutrition director, told members of the TPS School Board recently that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has modified what snacks can be sold in schools.
“The USDA sets the standards for foods sold in schools,” said Kerns. “This only affects a la cart items.”
The new regulations do not affect night activities, just sales between midnight and 30 minutes after the end of school.
“PTA sells during the day, and athletic events during the day have to comply with the USDA regulations,” said Lisa Presley, TPS superintendent of schools. “We will manage it, but it will be challenging.”
Elementary school sites and Tahlequah Middle School’s PTAs sell snacks, including pickles and popcorn one day a week as a fundraiser. Presley said Kerns is working on a popcorn the district can use at all of its sites and concession stands.
The problem with the pickles many students like to purchase is the amount of sodium in each pickle.
“There are 840 grams of sodium in one of those pickles,” said Kerns. “The allocated amount from the USDA is 230 grams for a snack item and 480 for an entree item.”
Monica Rotton, TMS PTA member for four years, supervised the Friday popcorn days and concessions at TMS.
“I purchased what the PTA sold each week and pickles was in the top three sellers,” said Rotton. “The PTA could purchase a large jar with 10 to 12 pickles in it for $5 and sell each pickle for $1. Students love them, and it was a great profit earner for PTA.”
Rotton said she is sure healthier snacks could be sold, and another top seller will replace the ever-favorite pickle.
DID YOU KNOW?
USDA Nutrition Standard for Foods state that the item must be a whole-grain or rich-grain product; have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, a dairy product or a protein food; be a combination food that contains at least one-fourth cup of fruit and/or vegetable; and contains 10 percent of the daily value of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.