TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Unified School District has rolled out a menu of cookies and cakes using alternative ingredients to keep sugar content low.
The artisan bakery items became a healthier option for bake sales and classroom celebrations just as the American Heart Association has released guidelines calling for children to limit their daily added-sugar intake to less than six teaspoons.
Added sugars can be found in many sweets including soft drinks, cakes, fruit juices, and candy.
The artisan bakery menu was not launched as a response to the new guidelines. TUSD administrative dietitian Lindsay Aguilar says schools and parents were looking for ways to limit sugary snacks outside of daily breakfasts and lunches.
"People are shocked when they taste a brownie that has black beans in it," Aguilar said. The menu includes ingredients like whole wheat, fruit, and oatmeal to produce items with between 7 to 15 grams of sugar per serving.
The district often has to do a lot of research to understand an item's added-sugar content before offering it to students. Nutrition labels do not distinguish added sugars from natural sugars.
"That can be very confusing when you're looking at products that have fruit, or dairy has natural sugar," Aguilar said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved new labels to list the different sugars, and most manufacturers will need to use the new labels by July 26, 2018. Aguilar expects the new labels to streamline work in the district's food services department.
Parents and staff wishing to order from the artisan bakery menu can call TUSD Food Services Catering at (520) 225-4747.