Our children’s health is on the forefront of lawmaking. Smart Snacks for Schools represents another school food initiative. Released this month, the guidelines cover snacks and beverages sold in schools and must take place by 2014-2015’sschool year.These standards represent an “important component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to combat the challenge of childhood obesity.” (New Rules For School Snack Foods Announced In USA, in Medical News Today, 04 Feb 2013.)
Snacking in school is prominent and some kids eat over half of their nutrient needs at school, especially if they participate in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. The proposed guideline covers those snacks and beverages for saleat school – NOT those foods brought in for school celebrations and bake sales OR the foods used as rewards for “performing well” in the classroom.
The following are the highlights of the Smart Snack proposalfrom the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA):
- Healthy snack foods should be encouraged in schools, including whole grains, low fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, or protein foods as their main ingredients
- Foods we should avoid should be reduced. We have to make sure that snack food items are lower in fat, sugar and sodium. Food products should include more of the nutrients children need.
- Beverage portion sizes and caffeine content should be gauged according to age groups
- Important traditions need to be taken into account. Parents still need to be able to send in bagged lunches for treats, birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations. Schools need to be allowed to carry on with traditions, such as bake sales and occasional fundraisers.
- Limitations on foods should only affect produce that is sold on school grounds and during the school day. On extra-curricular school events, such as sports matches or other activities will not be subject to these requirements.
Fact: food is for needed for energy and at the same time, food often accompanies celebrations. Are our children mindfully eating at school? Are our children’s snacks contributing to unhealthy weight gains?
If you have a comment about the federal government making a stand about the snacks and beverages sold in our schools, you have 60 days to make a comment. Stay tuned for the final Smart Snacks for Schools guidelines!In the meantime, check out these snacking tips for children.