Snacks & Sugary Foods in School

More than 55 million children and teens attend the nation’s public schools—and eat about 35% to 40% of their daily calories there. It’s really important that those calories be healthy ones—especially since a third of the calories kids eat these days aren’t healthy ones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that what kids eat at school matters.​. If we can make the food they eat at school healthier, it could make a big difference!

For schools that offer or sell foods outside of school meals, some of the recommended foods and drinks include

  • Fruits and vegetables (fresh or packaged with no added sugars).
  • Whole grains, such as whole-grain cereals or breads
  • Fat-free, low-fat milk and milk products (including lactose-free milk and soy-based beverages)
  • 100% fruit juice (4 oz. for elementary students;
  • 8 oz. for middle/high school students)
  • Plain water

Types of Foods Found in Schools

There are three categories of food kids eat at school: School meals (breakfast, lunch, and after school snacks) sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Food and drinks sold at school that aren’t part of the USDA program, such as those sold in vending machines.

“Other” foods (everything else that doesn’t fall into the other two categories), including snacks and lunches brought in by students, foods served for birthdays or as rewards and foods sold at sporting events or as fundraisers.

The first two categories are regulated, and as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed by congress in 2010, we have made progress in making the first two healthier. The USDA has made many changes in what it requires of school meals over the past decade, with the latest recommendations in 2012 encouraging less sugar, lean meats, low fat dairy, more fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as kid-sized servings. There have also been new rules about what can be sold in the lunch room that have made that food healthier, too.

There is no harm in the occasional cupcake—if it’s part of an overall healthy diet. The AAP isn’t worried about cupcakes—but they are worried about that overall diet, which for many children isn’t healthy.

Too many children are eating junk food, processed foods, and sweets, and washing it down with sugar-sweetened beverages. It’s understandable – kids usually are happy with these foods, and they are generally less expensive than healthier alternatives. However, eating them regularly can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other health problems.  None of us wants that to happen to our children! That’s why we all need to work together to help kids make the right choices and eat healthier meals.

A note for parents : Some healthy kids snacks

 Please make a note that your kids avoid food (those high in sugar, fat, sodium,and calories) in cafeterias, vending machines, stores, snack bars, or at fundraising events and school and classroom parties. These items typically include

  • Soft drinks, such as soda or “pop.”
  • Candy/gum.
  • Cookies.
  • Snack cakes.
  • Regular potato chips.
  • Other high-fat, high-calorie foods and drinks

Chicken Kabobs with Peanut Sauce

Chicken kabobs make for an easy, healthy snack or meal, and food on skewers is fun! Kids will love the yummy peanut sauce.

 Baked Sweet Potato Fries

These soft, yummy sweet potato fries are healthier than regular french fries (and taste great dipped in ketchup)

Orange Cranberry Muffins

These fruity muffins are packed with kid-friendly fruits and fruit juice and make a yummy, healthy breakfast or snack.

 Healthy Whoopie Pies

These whoopie pies are delicious and healthier than most desserts—they’re made with vitamin-rich beets!

Cheese crackers

Easy to make with different shapes

 Kiwi and Banana Palm Tree

 Use half of a banana as the trunk of the tree. Cut one kiwi into slightly curved slices, and place slices on top of the banana so they fan out like palm tree leaves.

The information contained on this Website should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your health care provider. There may be variations in treatment that your health care provider may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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