USDA Smart Snacks: Beyond the Lunch Line
On July 1, the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards went into effect for schools nationwide, and that helps support healthier students here in Wake County through higher nutrition standards. (These standards were put into place in summer 2013 as required by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010).
It’s important for school administrators and PTA leader to know that these standards extend beyond the lunch line. What do the standards mean? The standards apply to all foods and beverages sold during the school day in:
- vending machines
- school stores
- snack carts
- a la carte lines and
The standards cover all food and beverages sold to students outside of the breakfast and lunch programs for the entire school day (defined as midnight before to 30 minutes after end of the school day) on the entire school campus.
The standards do not cover foods served, such as celebrations or evening, weekend or community events, and they are minimum standards –a minimum of what schools must meet. . Per the new standards, there are limits on calories, fat, sodium and serving sizes for beverages. (See the Smart Snacks presentation presentation for details.) Note that North Carolina has not filed for any exemptions from the Smart Snack standards
Free Webinar: Sept. 18
The School Nutrition Policy Fellow at National PTA will host a Smart Snacks Overview webinar at 8 pm on Sept. 18 to inform state and local leaders on successfully implementing the Smart Snack guidelines. A member of the USDA staff, Nancy Lyons, will serve as a panelist to assist in providing technical information along with answering questions. Existing resources and information about future resources from National PTA and other organizations regarding these new guidelines will be provided.
Fundraisers: No Mixed Messages
The new standards are in place for fundraisers as well during the school day. There are no limitations on foods and beverages that meet the standards or non-food fundraising, and schools have a tremendous opportunity to support the healthy messaging of the new standards by holding fundraisers that support nutrition standards and goals. Consider this “bike blender” idea and many other healthy food or non-food fundraising ideas.
“Marketing” Smart Snacks at School
Nutrition services staff have been preparing for the new guidelines and have the Smart Snacks calculator and other tools available to them. Schools can help promote the Smart Snacks options through morning announcements, website announcement, social media and sharing this infographic. Check out all of the resources on USDA’s Tools for Schools page.