Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

Get Kids Involved with Smart Snacks in School

Whether it’s the USDA Smart Snacks in School or the desire to provide a smart Snack Attack for kids, no matter where they are, change often brings push-back. Getting kids involved in the new snacking strategies, however, is high on our list of best practices. Involving kids in the process of changing over to smarter snacks can be as simple as asking for their opinions and feedback. They develop ownership in the change as they are allowed to become part of the decisions being made. You may be pleasantly surprised how quickly they start advocating for the change!

  • Try taste tests - Let them choose the food to taste, set up the activity, and participate. This can be as simple as an in-class activity or as involved as a lunch-time tasting challenge for all grade levels. Even letting kids help the foodservice staff prep the food is a skill-building activity that boosts confidence!
  • Survey their peers - Ask kids what they want to have as snacks. Let them create the method to track votes, and initiate the survey. By voting on the new choices, kids will gain ownership in the change and will be more likely to try and eat the new snacks.
  • Create a contest - Voting on favorite new snacks or most popular options can generate positive feedback which in turn makes the healthy choices even more popular! It’s a win-win.
  • Promote benefits - Kids can spread the word about why the changes are being made and the importance of healthy snacks. They can advocate for healthy snacks through their student groups and leadership activities or classroom projects.

Highlights of the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards include:

•More of the foods we should encourage.

•Less of the foods we should avoid.

•Targeted standards.

•Flexibility for important traditions.

•Ample time for implementation.

•Reasonable limitations on when and where the standards apply.

•Flexibility for state and local communities.

The “smart snacks” are also known as “all foods sold in school” standards, and cover vending machines, a la carte lines, school stores, and snack bars. The new standards preserve flexibility for time-honored traditions like fundraisers and bake sales, and provide ample transition time for schools. The implementation deadline is in July 2014.

For more information, refer to the USDA Smart Snacks in School Infographic.

You may also find this helpful: Snack Facts: Raising the Bar for Nutrition Standards in Schools from the The Pew Charitable Trusts - Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project.