What does snack time look like in your program?
Are kids eating snacks like fruits, vegetables, and water, or are there bags of chips, cookies, and juice boxes? Maybe you want to offer healthier snacks, but don’t think your program has the time or money? Your local grocery store can be a great community partner to help make healthy snacks more affordable.
In a recent announcement, First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted the important role that out-of-school-time organizations can play in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic.
Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University, is working with some of the country’s leading out-of-school-time organizations to promote three simple principles:
- Drink Right: Choose water instead of sugar sweetened beverages
- Move More: Boost physical activity in all settings
- Snack Smart: Fuel up on fruits and vegetables.
Working with out-of-school-time programs from around the country, we have learned that leaders face a variety of challenges in adopting healthy principles, such as a limited time, space, and budgets.
The kids are finding out that healthy tastes good
To help overcome the barriers around serving healthy snacks, we have developed Snack It Up.
It’s a toolkit that guides out-of-school time programs through a step-by-step process for approaching their local grocery store for discounts on healthy snacks. Snack It Up is currently being pilot-tested with select out-of-school-time programs and grocery stores around the country. In addition to the discount on healthy snacks, participants have also received recipes ideas and a guide to running a successful taste test to encourage kids to try new foods.
Van Anderson, a participating 4H leader from New Hampshire, said, “I wasn’t able to give kids in my clubs the variety of fruits and vegetables that I’m able to give them now. I’m able to introduce them to new items.” Anderson said she’s shared her snack ideas with other 4H leaders in her community, who are now starting to serve healthier snacks.
Katy Blaine, also a participating 4H leader, said her kids are suggesting fruits and vegetables they’d like to have. “The kids are finding out that healthy tastes good,” she said.
Snack It Up is also sparking conversation about healthy snacks among kids and parents. Elizabeth Thomas, a parent-volunteer for four Pop Warner teams in Arlington, Texas, said, “Being part of this program got parents on our teams talking to kids about healthier options and about what foods would energize them.”
Whether you lead a year-long afterschool program, or are the parent-volunteer of a sports team, you’ll find useful information in the Snack It Up tool-kit to help guide your program toward healthier snacks.
Gather information about your program ahead of time to ensure that you are well-prepared for the conversation with your local grocer. Use the helpful “cheat sheet” in the toolkit to collect this information.
Think about what kind of discount would work best for your program, such as a percentage discount (5-10% off all produce items), or a specific dollar amount.
Contact the grocery store and ask to speak with the store manager. We’ve provided helpful talking points in the toolkit that can be used as an outline for your conversation.
Find the Snack it Up toolkit on the Healthy Kids Hub, along with healthy snack recipes and dozens of other resources to help kids in your program Snack Smart!
Healthy Kids Out of School is an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University. Major funding for Healthy Kids Out of School is provided by the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation. Additional funding for Snack It Up is provided by Newman’s Own Foundation.
For breakfast, Molly had a fruit salad, a wheat English muffin with peanut butter and a latte. Anna Marie had a yogurt and granola.
This entry is written in collaboration with Molly Newman and Anna Marie Finley, Tufts University.