No more candy in the school vending machine?

Mary Clare Jalonick / The Associated Press /

WASHINGTON — Goodbye candy bars and sugary cookies. Hello baked chips and diet sodas.

The government for the first time is proposing broad new standards to make sure all foods sold in schools are more healthful, a change that would ban the sale of almost all candy, high-calorie sports drinks and greasy foods on campus.

Under new rules the Department of Agriculture proposed Friday, school vending machines would start selling water, lower-calorie sports drinks, diet sodas and baked chips instead. Lunchrooms that now sell fatty “a la carte” items like mozzarella sticks and nachos would have to switch to healthier pizzas, low-fat hamburgers, fruit cups and yogurt.

The rules, required under a child nutrition law passed by Congress in 2010, are part of the government’s effort to combat childhood obesity.

Under the proposal, the Agriculture Department would set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on almost all foods sold in schools, but not bake sales or after-school concessions. Most snacks sold in school would have to have less than 200 calories. Elementary and middle schools could sell only water, low-fat milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice. High schools could sell some sports drinks, diet sodas and iced teas, but the calories would be limited. Drinks would be limited to 12-ounce portions in middle schools, and 8-ounce portions in elementary schools.

A final rule could be in place as soon as the 2014 school year.