Smart Shopping for Smart Snacks – Part I
Have you heard? The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Amazon Business have partnered to address barriers schools face in accessing healthier products. Together we have created the Healthier Generation Store – the first verified online store dedicated to selling products compliant with the USDA Smart in School Standards.*
The Healthier Generation Store has helped schools just like yours around the nation to serve healthier snacks and maintain Smart Snack compliance in a variety of activities outside the cafeteria, including in school stores and vending machines, as well as at fundraisers, events, and PTO/PTA functions.
Still not convinced? Don’t take our word for it! Our Healthy Schools Program Manager in Missouri, Terry Atteberry, recently had the opportunity to interview Kim Buckman and Mary Lewelling – Wellness Coordinators from two of our Healthy Schools Program districts – on how the Healthier Generation Store with Amazon Business has benefited their schools. Check out the first half of their interview below:
I know that your school districts have been working hard to ensure that the food served on campus is as healthy as possible for students. Can you share some of the past challenges you’ve experienced in ensuring that the competitive foods served fit the Smart Snacks in School guidelines?
Kim: The main challenges are parental knowledge of what “healthier” really means and the criteria of a healthier snack. Not everyone realizes that there are options beyond carrot sticks that fit Smart Snacks. It is a challenge to introduce foods that are available and meet the guidelines.
Another challenge is purchasing in bulk. Local big box stores keep a low inventory, requiring multiple trips and purchases. Occasionally small stores will order in bulk, but this can create re-sell issues for the store if all products that are ordered are not immediately needed.
Mary: It has been a challenge to ensure that everyone in the district (including administration, teachers and parents) is aware that healthier options are available that kids will eat. I share a Healthier Generation booklet on the Smart Snacks Guidelines to help and provide guidance.
How has the Healthier Generation Store helped to reduce some of those challenges?
Kim: Items are pre-reviewed for Smart Snacks guidelines, taking the guesswork out of purchasing. It is much easier to recommend snacks to parents and organizations when we know they are vetted by a reputable organization like Healthier Generation. And, we are also able to purchase more “name brand” products, which we typically have not had access to in the sizes needed.
Plus, all purchases from the Store are delivered right to the front door of your building for free. No more hauling items from your car or requiring the existence of a loading dock! This also means you can wait until you actually need items before ordering them – allowing for smaller order sizes – since all shipments arrive within a reasonable amount of time.
Mary: We used to have to drive over an hour, one-way, to purchase compliant snacks. Now, everything is delivered directly to us and we are assured that every item is Smart Snacks compliant. This saves us time and makes purchasing easier. We even use some of the snacks during standardized testing!
Kim, what are some of the more exciting ways that you’ve seen the Healthier Generation Store used in your community?
Kim: When the Healthy Celebration policy was passed in the district, the AHG Amazon Store flyer was sent home to all parents to share how easy it is! We demonstrated that it meets the criteria!
Mary, as someone who works with rural communities, you know that these communities have their own unique set of challenges when it comes to accessing healthier options. Can you share your thoughts on those challenges and how the Healthier Generation Store can support rural schools?
Mary: We had asked manufacturer representatives about healthier options and were told these options were not available for us. Big box stores are an hour and a half away, and options are limited and we must always have a list and verify the products are compliant. The closest stores that carry these products are across the state line and we are not able to use tax-exempt purchasing in other states any longer so this creates an additional cost as well as the cost of mileage. The Healthier Generation Store has eliminated all of these barriers for our district!
We thank Kim and Mary for their time – and rest assured, they have more to share! Check out Part II of the interview:
About those featured in the interview:
Terry Atteberry: A former Eldon School District wellness coordinator, office manager and coach, Terry joined the Healthier Generation team in 2015. In her role, she works with rural, urban and “in-between” school districts, many of which do not have access to options for healthy snacks. She has been excited to see how the Healthier Generation Store has provided the reassurance and confidence districts need to support healthier programs, celebrations and rewards in a positive way.
Kim Buckman: Kim serves as the Project Director/Community Wellness Coordinator for Randolph County Caring Community, supporting local efforts to impact youth wellness. Kim partners with the school district for afterschool activities, as well as with other clubs that collaborate with the district such as Parks & Rec, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, and 4-H.
Mary Lewelling: Mary is the District Wellness Coordinator for Cooter and Hayti School Districts, two districts that partner with the non-profit Pemiscot Initiative Network. Mary also serves as the Backpack for Friday Coordinator and Story Hour Coordinator.
*These products were determined to meet nutrition standards by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation based upon products’ ingredient statement and Nutrition Facts panel. All purchasing must be made in accordance with federal, state, and local procurement regulations. Procurement regulations are highly complex. The Healthier Generation Store was created to provide schools and sites with an option that may help them more easily access products that meet nutritional guidelines. We encourage schools and sites to connect with their district/organization procurement/purchasing department and/or State agency if they have questions regarding compliance with federal, state and/or local procurement regulations.