Healthy Snacking Makes it to School

The 2013-14 school year marks the beginning of USDA’s “Smart Snacks in School” program.  This means foods and beverages outside of the National School Lunch Program which are offered for sale in public schools.  The new standards aim to align for sale foods or “a la carte” foods with the new NSLP which require less fat and sodium, and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

A few key details of the Smart Snack allowances for food content:

  • Grain products must contain 50% or more whole grain by weight
  • The first ingredient must be a whole grain or one of the non-grain major food groups (fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein – protein also means nuts which are exempt from fat requirements)
  • Must contain ¼ cup of fruit or vegetable

Nutritional guidelines for Smart Snack foods:

  •  <200 calories per serving (entrée items sold a la carte may not be more than 350cal)
  •  Must be 35% or less total calories from fat and <10% saturated fat
  • <230mg sodium and July 1, 2016 moves to 200mg
  •  Total sugar may not be more than 35% by weight (fruit and vegetables with no added ingredients are exempt)
  • Through June 30, 2016, an allowable food must contain 10% DV of a public health concern nutrient such as calcium, potassium, Vitamin D or dietary fiber

Beverages also follow guidelines and serving sizes vary based on age.   The end game on beverages is that low fat milk and 100% juice juice is OK.  High schools may offer calorie free flavored water and carbonated water.  The rule seems to allow diet soda, which appears to me as a grey area.

This is a summary of details taken from Food Business News, July 2, 2013 “School snacks to get a makeover” 

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