School stores, snack bars and vending machines across the country will soon be required to swap donuts, chocolate bars and sugary drinks for fruits, veggies and whole grains, thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards.
The upgraded snack nutrition standards will go into effect next summer and complement the healthier, more nutritious school meals that went into effect last year. These changes represent a significant step towards improving nutrition for all students and reducing childhood obesity.
Many students purchase and consume at least one snack a day at school, however often there are only unhealthy options available in school vending machines, stores and cafeteria à la carte lines. The new nutrition standards will require schools to offer only healthier snacks and beverages for students and limit snack foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium.
You might be wondering about healthy food and drink options that abide by the new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards. Here are some tasty snack examples:
• Light popcorn
• Low-fat tortilla chips
• Granola bars
• Fruit cups
• Unflavored low-fat milk
• 100% fruit and vegetable juices
It’s important to point out that the USDA standards won’t apply to lunches students bring from home, bake sale fundraisers, or foods sold at venues for after-school sporting events. The standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. If you are interested in healthy fundraising ideas, check out our recent post on five fun and healthy fundraising ideas.
For more detailed information about the new snack standards, you can visit the USDA’s Healthy Snacks in School page or print out their 2-page flyer. We also recommend our Bag The Junk resources for useful toolkits and handouts on how you can support healthy food choices at your school.