When it comes to school snacks, many often think potato chips, cookies and other sugar-filled treats that students could buy alongside their lunches. While they are tasty and cheap, they lack the nutrients the students need to succeed in the classroom! Foods that contain high amounts of sugar often lead to the children getting tired and easily distracted, even getting a “sugar crash” before the school day ends!
According to the USDA’s website, they “recently published practical, science-based nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold to children at school during the school day. The standards, required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, will allow schools to offer healthier snack foods for children, while limiting junk food.”
The goal of these standards is to achieve a healthier classroom environment and improve the health of the students! They’re doing so by setting standards for the snack foods, meals and beverages provided by the school. By focusing on including more whole grains, fruits and vegetables into school lunches and snack options, a variety of typical options, such as cookies, chocolates and soda, are eliminated.
When breaking down these standards, schools look at the overall calories of the snack and whether they are “empty” calories, where they contain no nutritional value, or filled with vitamins, nutrients and essential minerals. They also make sure that the first ingredients are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products or a whole source of protein. That means no snacks with sugar or artificial ingredients listed on the label!
Along with calories, they also look closely at the sugar, sodium and fat content. If a snack exceeds the set limitations, for example a high fat content, then they are not considered a “smart snack” for school. They have specific guidelines for beverages as well and other information regarding after-school/off-campus activities, which can all be found on their flier here.
At Healthy Snack Solutions, we fully support the movement for healthier snack and lunch options at schools! All of our snacks have been put through the calculator to determine if they meet USDA’s standards for their Smart Snacks in School! You can find all of these snacks on our website here! Happy and Healthy Snacking this 2017!