Poll: GOP parents also back federal school nutrition standards

An overwhelming majority of parents — including most Republicans — back federal school nutrition standards, a new poll found. 

The findings released Monday by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association stand in stark contrast to a partisan spat in Congress over the Agriculture Department’s regulations. 

More than seven in ten parents back national standards for both snacks and meals in schools. The poll found that 75 percent of parents believe salt should be limited in meals and 91 percent support requirements that schools include a serving of fruits. 

When broken down along party lines, the poll found that more Democrats – 84 percent – and Independents – 72 percent – support the standards than parents identifying themselves as Republicans. 

But 56 percent of the GOP parents surveyed favor nutritional standards for both school meals and snacks, according to the poll.

“It shows that a majority really agree about these healthy nutrition standards in schools,” said Jessica Donze Black, a child nutrition expert at Pew. 

The survey of more than 1,000 parents with kids in public schools comes as districts around the country work to implement the new limits on fat, salt, and calories in foods and drinks from vending machines, school stores, and a la carte lines in cafeterias. 

The USDA’s “Smart Snacks in School” regulations follow a slate of new standards for regular school meals in concert with first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama leads USA dodgeball against Corden's Team UK Michelle Obama leads USA dodgeball against Corden's Team UK Michelle Obama to lead female celebrity dodgeball team in 'Late Late Show' face-off MORE’s campaign to counter childhood obesity. 

Congressional Republicans have assailed the regulations as an unwarranted government intrusion on a matter best left to families and local schools. Critics say the caloric limits are leaving some students hungry.