Smart Snacks in Schools

Smart Snacks in Schools
Healthy school snacks© The Pew Charitable Trusts

Offering fruit a la carte—such as the oranges, kiwis, bananas, and apples pictured above—helps to ensure that healthy options are available for the 4 in 10 kids who buy or eat a snack at school.

In the 2014-15 school year, schools nationwide implemented “Smart Snacks in Schools” guidelines, which are nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold to students on campus during the school day. These guidelines complement school meal improvements already underway and will ensure that children have healthy choices in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte lines. Nutritious snacks are better for student health and can help schools increase their food service revenue.

Browse the resources below to learn more about the standards for school snacks and how they can improve kids’ health.

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Healthy School Snacks Promote Student Nutrition

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Healthy School Snacks Promote Student Nutrition

Schools that offer healthy snack options have seen a decrease in the amount of fat, sugar, and calories that students consume.

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USDA Issues Final Rules Supporting Healthy School Snacks and Wellness Policies

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture released two final rules July 21 that mean schools must continue to meet strong nutrition guidelines for snacks sold to kids and also will prevent marketing of foods and drinks inconsistent with those standards.

State Snack Food Policies
State Snack Food Policies
Fact Sheet

State and National School Snack Policies

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Fact Sheet

Half of secondary school students consume at least one snack food a day at school.  Yet vending machines and snack bars in many schools have historically offered an abundance of candy, sugar-filled drinks, and other low-nutrient, high-calorie items rather than healthy snacks. Currently, 43 states have policies determining the types of snacks that schools may sell to students. However, these policies vary widely in content and strength; seven of these states, for example, have only suggested guidelines. 

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Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.

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Data-driven state policy innovations across America

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.

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State Snack Food Policies
State Snack Food Policies
Fact Sheet

State and National School Snack Policies

How they compare

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Fact Sheet

Half of secondary school students consume at least one snack food a day at school.  Yet vending machines and snack bars in many schools have historically offered an abundance of candy, sugar-filled drinks, and other low-nutrient, high-calorie items rather than healthy snacks. Currently, 43 states have policies determining the types of snacks that schools may sell to students. However, these policies vary widely in content and strength; seven of these states, for example, have only suggested guidelines. 

28%

The median percentage of secondary schools in each state that allowed students to purchase fruits as snacks in 2010.

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