As kids head back to school this fall, they’ll have access to healthier snack items, thanks to updated nutrition standards known as “Smart Snacks in School,” which went into effect July 1. These standards were created based on feedback from 250,000 parents, school administrators and food and beverage industry representatives, along with recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods and beverages sold in school vending machines, cafeteria á la cart lines, stores and through on-campus fundraisers will all be subject to the new Smart Snack standards.
The new standards require that any food sold in schools must be whole grain-rich, or have a fruit, vegetable, a dairy product, or protein listed as the first ingredient and meet several additional nutritional and caloric criteria. Schools may sell beverages including plain water, unflavored low-fat or nonfat milk and100% fruit or vegetable juices. A full list of the requirements and exemptions is available on the USDA website.
The Smart Snack standards are the first update in more than 30 years to these types of foods and beverages in schools and complement efforts already underway to meet updated nutritional guidelines for the school lunch and breakfast programs. The standards are limited in scope and do not apply to foods sold in venues, such as after-school sporting events, and leave flexibility for homemade treats for birthday parties and holiday celebrations. Schools will have a full school year to implement the changes, though many states already have laws that meet, or partially meet, at least one provision in the new standards, which should make implementation even easier.
LiveWell Colorado understands the challenges kids face in accessing healthy foods and is excited about the new Smart Snack standards. With children consuming up to 50 percent of their daily calories at school, we firmly believe that it is important to offer more foods that support a healthy lifestyle, while removing those that counteract the positive changes taking place in the cafeteria and at home. Click here to view an infographic on how Smart Snacks in Schools build on healthy school advancements and ensure that kids are offered tasty and nutritious foods throughout the school day.