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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XVI PUBLIC HEALTH
  • CHAPTER 111 PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Section 223 Nutritional standards for sale or provision of foods or beverages in public schools; school wellness advisory committees; food safety inspections at public schools

Section 223. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, have the following meanings:—

“Competitive foods or beverages”, all foods or beverages sold or provided in: (i) a la carte lines in school cafeterias; (ii) school stores; (iii) school snack bars; (iv) vending machines; and (v) any other locations in public schools; provided, however, that competitive foods or beverages shall not include foods sold or provided as part of the School Breakfast Program, the School Lunch Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program of the United States Department of Agriculture; provided further, that competitive foods or beverages shall not include non-sweetened carbonated water.

“Nutritional standards”, the standards promulgated by the department in accordance with subsection (c).

“Public school”, an elementary, middle, high, charter or innovation school operated by a public school district or board of trustees pursuant to chapter 71.

“School day”, the hours of the day that students are required to attend school.

(b) The department, in consultation with the department of elementary and secondary education and the department of mental health, shall establish, and periodically review, guidelines for:

(i) the training of all public school nurses in behavioral health and appropriate screening and resources for the treatment of childhood obesity and behavioral health disorders, including eating disorders;

(ii) the recognition, treatment and availability of resources for children at risk for and diagnosed with childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes;

(iii) professional development and training of public school nurses and aid staff to gain the most up-to-date knowledge on childhood obesity, eating disorders and type 2 diabetes so that they can become more effective at screening for these conditions and making appropriate referrals for treatment; and

(iv) the establishment of a referral program where medical resources in the community shall collaborate with public schools to identify children in need of nutritional services, and provide these resources through in-school, outpatient and inpatient settings, where appropriate.

(c)(1) The department shall promulgate regulations establishing nutritional standards for the sale or provision of competitive foods or beverages in public schools.

(2) All competitive foods or beverages sold or provided in public schools shall be limited to foods or beverages that comply with the nutritional standards; provided, however, that the nutritional standards shall not apply to competitive foods and beverages sold on school grounds up to 30 minutes before the beginning of the school day or to competitive foods and beverages sold on school grounds 30 minutes after the end of the school day; provided further, that notwithstanding the foregoing, the nutritional standards shall apply at all times to competitive foods or beverages sold on school grounds through vending machines. A public school district or board of trustees may elect to apply the nutritional standards to competitive foods and beverages sold or provided on school grounds up to 30 minutes before the beginning of the school day or to competitive foods and beverages sold or provided on school grounds 30 minutes after the end of the school day; provided, however that the nutritional standards shall not apply at any time to competitive foods or beverages sold or provided at booster sales, concession stands and other school-sponsored or school-related fundraisers and events.

(3) In developing the regulations, the department shall consider nutritional and dietary recommendations developed by state, federal and independent departments and health advisory associations including, but not limited to: the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, the American Dietetic Association, the national School Nutrition Association, the Institute of Medicine, the American Heart Association and the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts; provided, however, that the department, where appropriate, may develop the regulations in conformity with federal nutritional standards.

(4) The regulations shall include, but not be limited to, the following requirements for public schools:

(i) making available plain, potable water to all public school students during the day, at no cost to the students;

(ii) offering for sale fresh fruit and non-fried vegetables at any location where food is sold; provided, however, that this shall not include non-refrigerated vending machines and vending machines which dispense only beverages;

(iii) making nutritional information available to students for non-prepackaged competitive foods or beverages; provided, however, that this shall not include fresh fruit or fresh vegetables and foods or beverages sold during the school day at booster sales, concession stands, and other school-sponsored or school-related fundraisers and events;

(iv) prohibiting fryolators in the preparation of competitive foods; provided, however, that the department shall establish exceptions for the use of fryolators in the preparation of competitive foods sold during the school day at booster sales, concession stands and other school-sponsored or school-related fundraisers and events; and

(v) ensuring that all foods, including competitive foods or beverages sold or provided to students during the school day, meet state and federal food safety requirements.

(d) The department, in collaboration with the department of elementary and secondary education, shall assist public schools in the implementation of the nutritional standards relative to the sale or provision of competitive foods or beverages in public schools. The assistance may include:

(i) additional training in nutrition and diet available for school food service directors;

(ii) an assessment of a school’s capacity, resources and equipment to prepare and provide recommended foods; and

(iii) recommendations on the duration of school lunch periods.

(e) Every 5 years, the department, in consultation with the department of elementary and secondary education, shall conduct a review of the nutritional standards and update the nutritional standards as needed pursuant to subsection (c). In August of the last year of the 5-year period, the department shall report the findings of the review to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, the joint committee on health care financing, the joint committee on public health and the joint committee on education. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(i) an assessment of the success of implementing the nutritional standards in public schools;

(ii) the challenges or barriers experienced by public schools upon implementation of the nutritional standards and guidelines for the sale or provision of competitive foods and beverages;

(iii) changes in revenue received from the sale of federally-reimbursable school meals;

(iv) changes in total revenue from federally-reimbursable school meals and competitive sales combined that were lost or gained after implementation of the nutritional standards and guidelines for the sale or provision of competitive foods and beverages;

(v) notable changes in student participation in the federally-reimbursable school meals programs; and

(vi) recommendations for improvement of the nutritional standards and guidelines for the sale or provision of competitive foods and beverages.

(f) The department, in collaboration with the department of elementary and secondary education, shall promulgate regulations facilitating the establishment of school wellness advisory committees within school districts in order to maximize school districts’ eligibility as recipients of federal grant awards. The regulations may require the wellness advisory committees to develop and recommend district-wide wellness policies addressing school nutrition, nutrition education and physical activity. The regulations may further require the wellness advisory committees to periodically review the district-wide wellness policies and implement any recommendations made as a result of this review prior to the following school year. Committee members may include school administrators, school nurses, food service directors, food service staff, parents of students in the school district, students, physical and health education teachers, dietitians, health care professionals and interested community members.

(g) To promote food safety, the department, in collaboration with the department of elementary and secondary education, shall promulgate regulations requiring local health officials to conduct food safety inspections at public schools, in accordance and with the frequency required by state and federal law, or as a result of public complaint or food recall, and to track and report the results of these inspections for each school to the department and the department of elementary and secondary education, including any violations and steps to remediate the violations. The regulations may include minimal qualifications for local health officials responsible with conducting food safety inspections at public schools. All reports and information collected or received by the departments pursuant to the requirements of this subsection shall be public records pursuant to section 7 of chapter 4.