- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Retired schoolteacher Carol Rice thinks it’s silly to try to keep Washoe County students safe from Snickers. She’s talking about the candy bar, not mean-spirited giggling in the classroom.

Rice was among those who spoke out this week against new restrictions that could cut soda, chips and sweets in public schools in Reno and Sparks, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported (http://tinyurl.com/hevnrtw ).

“This is not the schools’ business,” said Rice, who taught for 30 years and argues it is parents’ responsibility to teach nutrition. “We’re supposed to be protecting them at school, but not from a candy bar.”

Washoe County School District wellness regulations set limits on sodium, sugar, fat and calories per serving. They also prohibit drinks except milk, 100 percent juices and low-calorie flavored waters. The restrictions apply to items sold or provided to students during the school day, not food or drinks that they bring themselves.

All public schools nationwide must meet similar snack standards in exchange for the federal government subsidizing meals for low-income students. All Nevada schools are using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks in Schools” guidelines.

About 50 people submitted written remarks on the rules and a handful of parents gave public comment at the district’s Student Wellness Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday. The panel wrote the proposal.

All comments will be sent to Superintendent Traci Davis, who could change the proposal after considering the input. But changes are unlikely because the district is beholden to the federal standards.

The wellness committee set a goal to educate all staff, parents and students about the snack rules this school year.

“For better or worse, that goal has been met,” committee Chairwoman Kelli Goatley-Seals said, noting recent parent pushback.

All school districts were supposed to approve their wellness regulations by last June, but Washoe still has not finalized theirs, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

Federal laws have called for more healthy snacks in schools since 2004. The Washoe County school board set standards to meet the U.S. guidelines in 2006, but the district did not adopt the change.

“Truthfully, it just wasn’t enforced,” district Chief Operations Officer Pete Etchart said. “Principals have a lot going on. It’s not at the top of their lists.”

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

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