Tools and resources for success
Implementing stronger nutrition standards for meals served as part of school breakfast and lunch programs is a great way to make a positive impact on children’s diets and their weight. But what about all those snacks that students consume in between meals?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards aims to address that gap. On July 1 this year, the Smart Snacks in Schools standards officially went into effect, governing the nutritional quality of foods and beverages sold during the school day in school vending machines, stores, snack cards and a la carte lines, as well as through school fundraising efforts.
To meet the Smart Snacks in Schools nutritional standards, the snack must be a fruit, vegetable, protein, dairy, or whole grain; have fewer than 200 calories; and be low in fat, sodium, and sugar.
Early indications are that the Smart Snacks in Schools guidelines are being met with great support, with more than 80 percent of American voters favoring the standards. It’s clear that a majority of parents, school leaders, food and nutrition services directors, and child health advocates see these nutrition standards as key to addressing and reversing the childhood obesity trend in our country.
How can school leaders and food and nutrition services directors meet these new standards? And what should parents know to help advocate for and ensure that such standards are here to stay?
A recent #FoodFri tweetchat hosted by Mom’s Rising (@MomsRising) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (@CSPI) offered some great resources and information that we felt should be highlighted again:
- The June 2013 announcement from the USDA regarding the roll-out of the Smart Snacks in Schools guidelines providing helpful context for where these nutritional standards fit into the panorama of efforts underway to make school foods healthier.
- A nice post from Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project answering seven of the most burning questions that often arise around the implementation of the Smart Snacks in Schools standards.
- A great infographic from the Food and Nutrition Services division of the USDA showing a snapshot of the nutritional quality of snacks in schools before/after the implementation of the new nutritional standards.
- Two great resources from Alliance for a Healthier Generation: Some inspiration and ideas to learn more about schools leading the way to healthier snacks on the sports field, in the cafeteria, and through healthy fundraisers; and a collection of tools to help make smart snacks a success in your school.
- A poll conducted by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project highlighting the support for healthier snacks in schools.
- Health Impact Assessment put forth from the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project and the Health Impact Project highlighting research to help understand the impact these nutrition standards can make on student health and school finances.
- Two “What’s in Your Snack” posters from Kaiser Permanente’s Regional Health Education department. The posters, offered in both Spanish and English, are a straightforward resource that cafeteria managers, school health leaders, and even parents can use to help others understand the wide variance in calorie count between various common snacks.
Here’s hoping that this school year is the best year YET for encouraging healthy eating during the school day!