If you have a child in school, you may have already heard about the new “Smart Snack” guidelines going into effect this year in Iowa schools that participate in the federal school lunch program. The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids’ Act updated the nutrition standards for snacks and beverages sold in school vending machines, via a la carte sales in the cafeteria, and at school stores and some fundraisers.
The new “Smart Snack” guidelines are intended to limit the availability of high-energy, low-nutrition foods like sugary beverages, candy, chips, and snack cakes.
The guidelines require snacks to:
- Be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, dairy product, and/or protein food;
- Provide at least 10% of the daily value of potassium, calcium, fiber, or vitamin D;
- Contain no more than 200 calories and 230 mg sodium;
- Provide no more than 35% of its calories as fat and no more than 10% as saturated fat (exceptions: nutrient-rich snacks such as nuts, seeds, and low-fat cheese); and
- Be no more than 35% sugar by weight.
The below table shows the difference in snacks allowed before and after the “Smart Snack” guidelines.
Will I break the law if I put a double-fudge brownie in my child’s or grandchild’s lunch? Although it is important that both schools and caregivers promote healthy eating for the well-being of children, the standards do not apply to packed lunches.
Will cupcakes be forbidden at classroom parties? Nope. These rules govern only food sold to children in school, not food that is given to them free.
How can I find out more about the new Smart Snacks standards? For more information on the USDA Smart Snacks standards, visit www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/smart-snacks-school.