Smart Snacks

The USDA took a major step forward in releasing the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold to students during the school day in vending machines, school stores, snack carts and a la carte lines, as well as through fundraising. These standards are now in effect and apply all around your school campus.

Below is a series of tools we’ve created together with the School Nutrition Association to help make Smart Snacks a success in your school district.


Step 1: Know Your Venues

First, get organized!  Take inventory of every place in your building where snacks and beverages are being sold. Identify each location and the person responsible for that location. Often, this involves more than just the cafeteria. Is the district business office responsible for the vending machine contracts? Does the student council run the school store or snack cart?

Use the Venue Survey Tool to help you get started answering the following questions:

  • Where are snacks and beverages sold to students in my school?
  • Which staff members or student/parent group oversees each of these locations?

Smart Snacks Video

Learn next steps for your school in our smart snacks video led by our National Nutrition Advisor, Jill Turley.

Step 2: Get Others Involved to Build Consensus

Once you have identified everyone responsible for selling snacks and beverages in the school building, it is time to build consensus by educating your school community about the new standards. Use the Smart Snacks…Just Enough presentation to provide them with some background, including the July 1, 2014 deadline, venues where the guidelines apply, and the types of foods and beverages that will be allowed. 

You can also show them this short On-Demand Video outlining the Steps for Success!

Step 3: Know Your Products

Take inventory of the products in each of your venues. Use the Beverage Inventory and Food Inventory to help you stay organized for each venue.

Smart Snacks Product Calculator
Use the Smart Snacks Product Calculator to take the guesswork out of this project and help identify if your current products meet the nutrition standards

Alliance Product Navigator
Browse the Product Navigator to help you identify products that meet the Smart Snacks standards. You can search by company to see if your vendor is in our database and identify compliant products that they have.

Step 4: Engage the School or District Business Officer

Find out whom in your school or district deals with the vendors and manages actual contracts and let them know about the Smart Snacks nutrition standards.  Ask them to help you identify contracts that may need amending based on the results of the product inventories you completed, and identify the vendors who need to be contacted. 

Use this Vendor Contact Tool to organize your vendors and their contact information, as well as if they have been contacted.

Step 5: Work with Your Vendors

Begin communicating to your existing vendors about the Smart Snacks nutrition standards and the items that will need to be replaced.

Use our sample letter to vendors to help you get started.


Resources to Work with Vendors

Step 6: Talk to Neighbors and Combine Your Efforts

All schools must comply with the Smart Snacks nutrition standards, so it is smart to combine forces. Explore combining purchasing power to help drive demand and increase volume.  Consider organizing a meeting with neighboring schools or districts to learn their lesson.

Use our sample invitation and sample agenda to generate interest for your meeting.  Even if a formal partnership is never pursued, learning how others are implementing the standards can be tremendously helpful.

Step 7: Communicate Ahead of Time

This is possibly the most important step to successfully making changes to the snacks and beverages in your school.  Many different audiences -  administrators, staff, students and parents – need to know that change is coming!

Resources for Communications

Step 8: Promote the New, Healthy Choices in Your School Building

When Smart Snacks nutrition standards go in to effect, it is important to remind your school community about the new and improved snack and beverage options and promote them with a few marketing tactics!

Great Marketing Tactics

Step 9: Engage Students

Involve students in the process wherever you can and consider their opinions and feedback – they are the ultimate customer. When they are part of the decision making process, they are much more likely to embrace the changes.

Hold taste testing events and focus groups to get students’ feedback.

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Here are some additional resources to make Smart Snacks a success in your school!

Talk with Our Expert

Stephanie Joyce s one of our National Nutrition Advisors and is here to answer your questions, give you suggestions and point you in the right direction.

Email Stephanie

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