- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Washoe County public schools are cracking down on snack restrictions to align with state and federal guidelines.

The district is starting to enforce nutritional standards that were drafted in 2006 for food and drink offered during the school day, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported (https://on.rgj.com/1RflcPS ).

The guidelines limit salty, high-fat and sugary snacks as well as highly processed foods and other unhealthy things.

Federal laws have called for more healthy snacks in schools since 2004. In 2006 the Washoe County School Board set standards to meet those guidelines, but the district failed to enforce 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.”

Etchart said district officials sent notices to parents and memos to principals telling them to adhere to the new rules. Schools that fail to comply could face six-figure federal fines.

“All schools must immediately shut down any and all student stores, vending machines (meaning unplugged from the wall), or the distribution of food and beverages . that haven’t previously been approved by the Nutrition Services Department,” Superintendent Traci Davis wrote in a recent memo to school principals of the district.

The mandate came after the Nevada Department of Agriculture recently audited the district for its adherence to new standards. State officials, district personnel and public records show Washoe County is lagging in getting on healthy snacks to students.

Brian Rothe, Washoe coordinator of student athletics and activities, said the state never made a deadline for compliance to state nutritional standards clear.

“The state wanted to see this quicker, but we have district protocols. We wanted to do this the right way,” said Rothe, who oversees the student wellness advisory committee. “There are a lot of considerations.”

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

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