The Total Child

Smart Ideas to Implement Smart Snacks

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 A guest post by Jill Camber Davidson, RDN, CD, School Program Manager at Action for Healthy Kids, Chicago, IL. This post is about the Final Rule on Smart Snacks and the results of an Action for Healthy Kids/AASA Smart Snacks Survey.

The beginning of another school year is upon us. Starting the school year is more than teacher training days and student placements – it means much planning to provide our students healthy foods at school too. The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 brought many changes to the food sold (and served) at schools last year. And last month, the release of the final rule for Smart Snacks* complements the meal choices already in place. This final rule affirms that all foods sold at school during the school day will be healthier choices for our students.

 Action for Healthy Kids and AASA, The Superintendent’s Association both agree that it’s important to engage the total child in an approach that extends beyond the cafeteria, resulting in a healthy school environment with students who are ready to learn.

 School leaders play a key part in establishing a whole school approach that impacts a safe, supportive and healthy school environment. In fact, AFHK and AASA, The Superintendent’s Association, surveyed the AASA membership in December 2015 about smart snacks attitudes and implementation needs in order to better understand your educational needs upon the release of the Smart Snacks final rule this year.

 AASA Member Smart Snack Survey Results

 How do school administrators feel about smart snacks?

  Over three-quarters (77%) of school leaders surveyed (n = 328 consider implementing policies and practices that meet or exceed Smart Snack standards to be an “important” or “high” priority. Additionally, two thirds of administrators agree the Smart Snack standards help balance the needs of schools while still ensuring that students have access to healthy foods and beverages during the day. Thus, school leaders agree on the need for Smart Snacks legislation and believe it should be a high priority; an important first step in implementing the new rule successfully. 

 However, the survey also showed that many competing priorities and school improvement directives often distract focus from health initiatives. Nearly half of administrators queried admitted that the implementation of robust wellness policies and practices is a lower priority than other areas of school improvement. Smart Snacks falls into this lower priority. There are also school leaders who are unclear on what the new standards mean, and how to determine which foods meet or don’t meet the standards. The survey results show that while school leaders see Smart Snacks as a high priority, there are many challenges to implementing the new rules successfully. We will be sharing ways to overcome several of these barriers in a webinar on September 28 at 2 pm ET/1 pm CT. The webinar will be hosted by AFHK and AASA, and include the perspectives from school leaders. Superintendent John Skretta of Norris School District (NE) and Superintendent Jeff Smith of Balsz School District (Ariz.) will be the featured guest speakers. They will discuss how they have implemented Smart Snacks into their own districts.  Find resources from the webinar here.

Change takes time, effort, support and resources. This webinar will also introduce parents, school staff and school leaders to other educational resources to help implement the Smart Snacks rule and support a healthy school environment. Make plans to attend this webinar as you continue to work towards making the healthy choice the easy choice for students.

Smart Ideas to Implement Smart Snacks in Schools
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 | 60 minutes
2:00 PM (ET), 1:00 PM (CT), 12:00 PM (MT), 11:00 AM (PT)


 *National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

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