Pack Your Snacks

Despite federal regulations that monitor the nutritional quality of school lunches, snack items found in school vending machines and cafeterias remain generally unhealthy and contribute to the obesity epidemic among our nation’s youth.

Earlier in 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) drafted nutritional guidelines in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to align school meals with the latest nutrition science and the real world circumstances of America’s schools. However, those regulations do not cover snack foods and beverages, and the availability of healthy options is often lacking. A study done in 2010 showed that fewer than half of our nation’s schools provide healthy snacks, such as fruits and vegetables.

The USDA responded to a report recommending updated nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages, aligning them with the new school meal guidelines. The guidelines would help rid our schools of some of the high-calorie and sugar-loaded snacks. However, to ensure the availability of healthy snacks for your school-aged children, you can always pack a couple low-calorie options for them at the beginning of each day.

Healthy choices include:
 Fresh fruit
 Cheese and crackers
 Celery filled with peanut butter
 Hard-boiled eggs

Standards as recommended by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project’s Health Impact Assessment: National Nutrition Standards for Snack and a la Carte Foods and Beverages Sold in Schools. Calorie information is taken from the USDA nutrient database (8/29/12)