The Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) has announced that ConAgra Foods, ARYZTA, Horizon Software International and NutriKids have signed voluntary agreements to help increase the availability of healthy school meal products and technology to help schools serve healthier meals. The announcement builds on the industry agreements AHG, founded by the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation, announced in early 2011 with 13 leading food manufacturers, group purchasing organizations and technology companies.
“With the addition of ConAgra Foods and ARYZTA, the agreements brokered by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation now include 15 of the leading food manufacturers providing school meals across the country,” says AHG CEO Ginny Ehrlich. “These agreements are critical to fighting the childhood obesity epidemic.”
The effort to increase the availability of healthier school meals follows the success of similar industry agreements brokered by AHG. Voluntary agreements with the snack food and beverage industries initiated in 2006 have resulted in healthier choices available to students in schools across the country—including an 88 percent decrease in total beverage calories shipped to schools between 2004 and the 2009 school year.
ConAgra Foods and ARYZTA have joined other leading food manufacturers pledging to set prices for healthier items that meet AHG’s science-based standards for nutrition at prices no more than ten percent greater than less healthy comparable products. All participating manufacturers have also committed to increase the sales of compliant products to at least 50 percent of their entire school sales within five years.
All manufacturers have also committed to aggressively promote products that align with AHG’s Healthy Schools Program standards and will help schools meet or exceed the current USDA requirements, recently updated in January 2012. Product commitments fall in at least one of the following categories within the Alliance’s science-based guidelines for school foods:
• Lean protein products, such as lean red meat, skinless poultry, lean deli meats, fat-free or low-fat cheese, beans, and tofu.
• Low-fat lunch entrées with reduced total fat, saturated fat and sodium levels.
• Whole-grain products, such as bread, pasta and pizza crust.
• Fresh, canned or frozen fruit.
• Zero trans fat cooking oils.
AHG is also collaborating with Horizon and Nutrikids, now a division of Heartland School Solutions, both vendors of software, services and technologies for k-12 food service operations. By working with AHG, these two companies will provide important nutritional content and access to tools and resources through regular communications, reaching more than 12,000 school districts.
They are also working to create easy-to-import healthy recipe files from AHG popular celebrity chef recipes. These tools will make it easier for school food service directors to implement new recipes in their school cafeterias.
In addition to ConAgra Foods, ARYZTA, Horizon and NutriKids, companies who have agreed to voluntary agreements to improve school meals include AdvancePierre Foods, Asian Food Solutions, Bake Crafters Food Company, Domino’s Pizza, JTM Food Group, High Liner Foods, McCain Foods USA, Rich Products Corporation, Schwan’s Food Service, Tasty Brands, Trident Seafoods, HPS, Premier healthcare alliance, Summa/Provista, Interflex, Del Monte Foods, Dole Food Company, Inc., and the National Turkey Federation.
Parents, school administrators and food service directors can join AHG’s Healthy Schools Program online at www.healthiergeneration.org. There is no cost to join the Healthy Schools Program, and members have access to hundreds of resources, including a variety of free technical tools that enable anyone who makes purchasing decisions about school meals to implement and promote healthier options for students.