Smart Snacks, CACFP & HEPA Support is Just a Click Away
Our Healthier Generation team is excited to celebrate great nutrition – and all the positives that come with eating a balanced diet – this March. We are also thrilled that roadmaps like the USDA Smart Snacks in School Standards (Smart Snacks), National AfterSchool Association Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Guidelines (HEPA), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Meal Pattern exist to support organizations as they seek to serve healthier options to youth. Through our work each day, however, we recognize that the likelihood of a young person enjoying the benefits of good nutrition can hinge on a variety of topics including this one thing: the ability of their school, out-of-school time organization and/or family to identify and access healthier products. And that isn’t always an easy process.
To discuss this very challenge and hear expert insight on how to address it, Anne Valik, a Healthier Generation Manager of Business Sector Strategies, recently sat down with Jill Turley, a Healthier Generation National Nutrition Advisor. Check out their interview below to learn more about the tools and resources that Healthier Generation has created to assist organizations as they navigate food access.
Anne: You work very closely with schools & out-of-school time sites as they look to comply with nutritional guidelines. What are the biggest challenges that you see facing schools and out of school time sites as they look to serve products that align with various standards?
Jill: Knowledge and access are the two biggest barriers. Knowing what the standards are and which products meet them is often the first hurdle for schools and OST sites. Then, knowing where to find those products or who to contact for help is second. They may not know where to even begin looking or be aware that their local foodservice director might be able to help them source the products they need. Of course, access often still an issue, even with that help. Once it is determined what products are needed, those products may still not be available in their community.
Anne: Given those challenges, what tools and resources do you typically highlight to organizations to assist with that process?
Jill: Healthier Generation has some great resources to help! The Smart Food Planner hosts a product database that users can easily search to find products that meet the Smart Snacks in School or CACFP nutrition standards. They can drill down by product category, then save and export searches in real time as they try to find the products locally. The Smart Food Planner also hosts the Smart Snacks Calculator and CACFP Calculator, which easily lets them know if a product meets those two sets of standards by entering information from the nutrition facts panel.
The Healthier Generation Store, developed through a partnership with Amazon Business, is another resource I let organizations know about. It is populated with foods and beverages that meet the Smart
Snacks standards & HEPA guidelines, and anyone can order!* They simply have to set up a free account and go online (details on how to get started are available here). And finally, I often encourage folks to contact their local foodservice director in their community. This is great for relationship building, and foodservice directors can often help access foods and beverages that meet certain standards.
Anne: You mentioned the Healthier Generation Store with Amazon Business. What are your favorite features of the store, and in what specific ways might it be useful to schools or out-of-school time sites?
Jill: School and OST employees are busy! They are juggling many priorities. Having a place where they can easily find healthier products that meet various nutrition standards not only saves them a lot of time, but also a lot of stress. The Healthier Generation Store addresses access to nutritious foods and beverages, but more importantly, it gives employees back some time that they can use to continue planning and executing quality programming for young people, such nutrition education and physical activity. They do not have to spend time (and spin wheels!) figuring out where they can access these options – the options are just a click away.
Anne: Thinking specifically about out-of-school time and community programming, how might the Healthier Generation Store be utilized to create healthier environments for kids?
Jill: The Healthier Generation store isn’t just for snacks and meals! Planning a family night? Need snacks for a staff meeting? Or Teacher Appreciation Week? Serving healthier fare at your next holiday party? Go check it out!
Thanks, Jill, for sharing your insight, and for supporting organizations everywhere as they implement nutrition best practices! To stay in the loop with both Jill (@rdjill) and Anne (@ARValik), follow them on Twitter today.
Interested in learning more about the Healthier Generation Store?
Join us on our upcoming webinars! All participants that register and join live will have a chance to win one of ten $20 Amazon gift cards.
- Schools Webinar on April 11th @ 4pm ET – Register Now
- Out-of-School Time Webinar on April 12th at 11am ET – Register Now
*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.