Smart Snacks in School

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Smart Snacks in School standards put in place practical, evidence-based nutrition standards for snacks and beverages sold in vending machines, school stores, snack carts, á la carte lines, and in-school fundraising.  


Follow These Steps to Smart Snacks Success: 

Step 1: Know Your Venues 

Start by getting organized. Where are snacks and beverages being sold to students in your school? Who is responsible for sales at each of these locations? 

Think beyond your á la carte line in the cafeteria. Is the district business office responsible for vending machines? Does a student entrepreneurial class run the school store?


Step 2: Keep Everyone in the Know 

Make sure everyone responsible for selling snacks and beverages in your school community knows about Smart Snacks. Get started by exploring the Smart Snacks tools in our Resource Center. 


Step 3: Know Your Products 

Look at what’s being sold in each venue. Use the Beverage Inventory Worksheet and Food Inventory Worksheet to help you document your product inventory and stay organized. Then, utilize Healthier Generation's tools for Smart Snacks success: 

  • Use the Smart Snacks Product Calculator to take away the guesswork! This is the only tool verified by the USDA to accurately assess a product's compliance with the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards

  • Use the Smart Food Planner to menu plan, find new recipes, and more!  


Step 4: Engage the Business Office 

Enlist the help of the individual(s) responsible for working with food and beverage vendors to inventory vendors, collect contact information, and indicate when vendors were last contacted.  Then identify contracts that may need to be amended based on your product inventories.


Step 5: Work with Your Vendors 

Consider the following strategies to get started: 

  • Make sure they know about the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards 

  • Ask for their list of products that meet the Smart Snacks standards 

  • Work together to develop a plan for finding replacement products when needed

  • Request samples for student taste tests 

  • Share Healthier Generation’s food and beverage tools (Step 3) 

  • Let them know they can find more information about Smart Snacks on the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School website, including specific policies and guidance pertaining to the regulation 

  • Use our sample letter to vendors 


Step 6: Talk to Your Neighbors 

Consider organizing a meeting with neighboring schools or districts to explore combining purchasing power and learn from one another's experience implementing Smart Snacks standards. Use our sample invitation and sample agenda to generate interest for the collaboration. 


Step 7: Get the Word Out 

Clear communication about Smart Snacks is the key to successful implementation. Try these tips:


Step 8: Promote! Promote! Promote! 

Now it’s time to share the news about the changes you’ve made. Try these tips: 

  • Post an updated on your school or district's website to share Smart Snacks news and information with your school community 

  • Highlight your Smart Snacks successes with regular newsletter updates 

  • Use morning announcements to build excitement about healthy eating among students 


Step 9: Engage Students 

Ensure success with students by involving them in the process. Hold a taste testing event or focus group to get students' feedback on products offered at your school. Remember, when students are part of the decision-making process, they are much more likely to embrace the changes and contribute to Smart Snacks success. 


Next Step:

Learn more about healthy school fundraising.