How to Plan Smart Snacks Campers Will Love

Posted by: Lauren Marciszyn

Serving up the right snacks can make a difference in how active campers perform and behave for the rest of the day.

Boy at Picnic Table

Here are three tools to guide your healthy (aka “smart”) snack menu planning process:

1. Adhere to HEPA Standards

The Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards offer guidelines for snacks that will provide the appropriate nutrients without the junk. General rules to follow:

DO

  • Serve a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack
  • Serve only water and plain, low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk
  • Serve whole grains when grains are served

DON’T

  • Serve foods with trans fats
  • Serve snacks that are fried or pre-fried
  • Serve products with more than eight grams of added sugar
  • Serve products where sugar is one of the first three ingredients

2. Get on the A-List

The John Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition provides a 76-page PDF of vending and snack products that meet the USDA’s Smart Snack nutritional standards called the A-List. The guide is regularly updated and lists hundreds of items, their corresponding nutritional facts and relevant distributors. The YMCA recommends double-checking A-list items against HEPA standards.

3. Crunch the Numbers

The Alliance Product Calculator can be used to determine whether an individual product qualifies as a USDA Smart Snack by answering a few questions about the product and plugging in some nutritional facts. This handy tool works for beverages, snacks, sides and entrees.

Although there is no official list of “approved snacks,” the YMCA recommends the following products to get started on your smart snack menu planning:

  • “Made with Whole Grain” Goldfish
  • Keebler Bug Bites Graham Crackers
  • Skeeter Cinnamon Grahams
  • “Made with Whole Grain” Teddy Grahams
  • Chewy Granola Bars
  • Triscuits or 100% Whole Grain Wheat Thins
  • Natural Applesauce
  • Mixed or Single Fruit Cups in 100% Juice
  • Fruit “pouches” with No Added Sugar
  • Welch’s 100% Juice Freezer Pops
  • Fudgsicles
  • Seltzer Without Added Artificial Sweeteners or Sugar
  • Unsweetened Ice Tea

Looking for more tips and support?
 

Have a question about your camp’s smart snack menu? Email Lauren Marciszyn. And learn more about how the YMCA is ensuring all youth have access to nutrition year-round by following #TheYFeedsKids.

FTC Disclaimer:  This post is not sponsored. 

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.