It’s that time of year again! Kids across the country are heading back to the classroom and we want to help ensure their minds and bodies are fueled with nutritious foods to support a successful education.
Fortunately, the health of today’s school environment continues to improve. Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, cafeterias began offering school meals that meet updated nutrition standards last year. School lunches and breakfasts now include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- and less sodium and unhealthy fats- and kids are adapting to the changes. According to a recent study, 70 percent of schools reported that students seem to like their new lunches and 63 percent said students are no longer concerned about the new changes.
Now, it’s time for snacks sold in schools to get a healthy make-over too. The ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards took effect at the beginning of this school year, building on the progress made with school meals. Foods and beverages sold in a la carte lines, snack bars, and vending machines, also known as ‘competitive foods’, must now meet strong nutrition standards as well.
For many schools, this is nothing new. Thousands of schools had already found new ways of providing “smart snacks” for students – well in advance of updated federal lunch standards. These schools serve as good examples that these changes can be made and embraced by students.
So, how can you help make ‘Smart Snacks’ implementation successful for your child and your school district? We know change is never easy. Encouraging students to move away from sugary beverages and salty snacks will take some effort from schools and parents. But it can be done and must be done for the health of today’s kids. Join us!
1) Do your homework- The United States Department of Agriculture has a host of resources to learn about the ‘Smart Snacks in School’ standards and the changes you can expect to see in your school district this year. Take a look and help share them with fellow parents:
2) Get involved-
- Ask your school administration about the changes that have been implemented in your district to improve nutrition.
- Make time to join your child for lunch in the school cafeteria to see what is offered for meals and snacks.
- When your child gets home from school, ask what was served and what (s)he ate for lunch.
- Reinforce the healthier options your child has at school by serving healthier snacks and meals at home.
- Be a role model. Let your child see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at meals and snacks.
- Grocery shop together. Talk about healthy choices and discuss where vegetables, fruits and grains, dairy and protein foods come from.