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|Healthy Snack Guidelines and Policy|
Healthy Snack Guidelines
Parks and recreation agencies provide a lot of programming for children. Often that programming involves food, which can often be unhealthy. Below are guidelines and resources for increasing healthy snacks and food in sports, camp, afterschool, and other programs.
Smart Snacks in School is the new national nutrition standard for public schools. The guidelines are:
These guidelines are similar to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's Competitive Food Guidelines. To quickly find out if the snacks you are serving meet these guidelines, try the Alliance's product calculator. If your snack does not meet the guidelines, the calculator will suggest alternative snacks.
Snacks for camps, afterschool, and other programs
Many park and recreation agencies have implemented healthy snack guidelines for the camps, afterschools, and other programming. Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources shared their experience using healthy snack guidelines in one of NCRPA's Wellness Webinars. Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation adopted a healthy vending policy several years ago, and use those nutritional guidelines with their snack program. Their healthy beverage list is a good place to start for healthy drink ideas. Advocates for Health in Action (based in Wake County) have a healthy snack list, as well as camp-specific flyer for parents promoting healthy snacks ideas, and recipes for healthy campfire snacks.
In Pitt County, students from East Carolina University have partnered with local Boys and Girls Clubs to implement a healthy snack program called Snack Rx. The Snack Rx folks have shared some of their resources with NCRPA, including snack ideas and a menu planner with healthy, inexpensive options that can be purchased through a distributor or at discount store.
Outside of North Carolina, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has adopted a systemwide healthy food policy for their camps and afterschool programs. Their Healthy Living Guidelines for Out-of-School Time Programs Toolkit is a wonderful resource that contains step-by-step instructions for camp/afterschool leaders, as well as worksheets and other handouts that can be given to kids and parents.
Snacks for sports
In May 2014, the NCRPA Board of Directors endorsed a position statement (developed through the Statewide Pioneering Healthier Communities Advisory Committee of the NC Alliance of YMCAs) supporting the use of healthy food in athlete participation in sports, concessions during sporting events, and youth sports fundraising. The position statement suggests that NC youth sports groups use the Alliance for a Healthier Generation's guidelines.
There are several healthy food in youth sports resources that you can distribute to coaches, parents, and/or athletes. Advocates for Health in Action developed several flyers that can be given to parents with tips for game day food choices (including before, after and during the game). They also share low-cost healthy snack ideas for parents on team snack duty. In Wayne County, Goldsboro Parks and Recreation has partnered with other community organizations to produce this great flyer for youth sport leagues promoting water and other healthy beverages that can be used as a template for your own handout. The Greenwood, South Carolina YMCA also has a parent handout with specific brand ideas. And the University of Minnesota has several resources for healthy eating in youth sports, tailored to athletes, coaches, parents, and league organizers.
Implementing healthy snack guidelines or policy for kids is a great first step toward providing healthy food options. Once you've completed the transition, tell us about it, so we can share your tips with other agencies. Then, try one of these other healthy food policy changes: