As youth summer programs kick-off, it is important to consider snacks that are both healthy and well-liked by the children. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) acknowledges the health of today’s school and youth programs continues to improve, but there is still progress to be made. Currently, the Smart Snacks in School standards have helped ensure kids are offered tasty and nutritious foods during the school day. Some of the food requirements include a “whole grain-rich” grain product, or have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, a dairy product or a protein food. If you aren’t doing it already, these food guidelines can easily be carried into youth summer programs to maintain a consistent message throughout the year. However, as busy we all are during the summer months, sometimes it is hard to consider healthy snacks and we resort to purchasing the fast, easy and less healthy options for youth programs.
Below I have listed healthy snack options, as well as a couple resources for youth programmers to gather ideas for more healthy options.
Healthy Snack options can include:
- Apple slices spread with reduced fat peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins.
- Applesauce with cinnamon
- Banana sliced in half with reduced fat peanut butter.
- Cut up vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing.
- Popcorn with or without light butter.
- Low fat pudding cups/ Low sugar Jell-O cups
- Trail Mix: Chex Mix, mini-pretzels, raisins, chocolate chips, and mixed nuts
- Red grapes and string cheese.
- Rice cakes spread with reduced fat peanut butter.
- Sliced Watermelon
- Serving of dried cranberries and blueberries
- Fruit Salad (sliced and diced fruit such as bananas, blueberries, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, ect.)
- Veggie tray: celery, carrots, and cherry tomatoes
- Animal crackers or graham crackers
- Yogurt with granola pieces
Listed are some alternative resources to find information on quick snacks or meals to prepare for children. Eat Smart Move More NC provides information on both snacks and drinks. This is great general information that everyone should know; such as portion control, planning ahead for the week, and specific food items that are the healthiest. KidsHealth has great recipes for kids with dietary restrictions; every child, no matter their limitations, should be able to enjoy their meals. The UNL Food Team, has quick, simple snack mixes that are creative, healthy and tasty. And lastly, be sure to check out NCRPA’s Healthy Snack Guidelines page for more information on increasing healthy snacks and food in sports, camps, afterschool and other programs!
As always, if you have any snack ideas or healthy eating programs, then please us or submit them on the wellness site here: (firstname.lastname@example.org,http://www.ncrpa.net/?Wellnesssub). Happy healthy eating!