It’s that time of year again…costumes are littering the house, pumpkins on the porch, and the kids are asking “what candy are we giving out this year?!” This used to be a straight-forward question, but now we as parents are left asking “what can we give out?!” With thoughts in our heads of: what is nut-free, gluten-free, vegan, healthy and “cool”? What’s fun but also a healthy alternative to the sugar-filled, fatty options?
Our kids’ school is not a “nut-free” zone, but the school does designate certain tables as nut-free. At the same time, they are serving cookies at the lunch window, along with certain sugary beverages. So while, we’ve made strides to keep our kids safer and healthier, there are still many areas to work on.
- According to the USDA Smart Snack Final Rule, acceptable food items must have ≤ 35% calories from total fat as served and ≤ 35% of weight from total sugar as served.
- At least 39 states currently have some kind of competitive foods standard already in place.
- Between 1977 and 1996, the number of calories that children consumed from snacks increased by 120 calories per day.*
- There are still no federal requirements for Childhood Nutrition Labeling
- Poor nutrition effects a child’s ability to learn**
Since there are still no federal regulations forcing schools to label the food served, we as consumers and parents must gather as much knowledge as possible to help our children make the best and safest decisions when it comes to what they eat at school. Whether it’s evaluating gluten content, allergens, or ingredients, we want the information at our fingertips. Literally, whether I search online or I am shopping at my local grocery store, I want to be able to quickly and easily evaluate the food items I am putting in my physical or online shopping cart.
Thankfully, organizations like the Grocery Manufacturers Association are introducing new initiatives like SmartLabel, which seeks to standardize nutrition information available to consumers so they can make informed decisions – for our own kids and the ones that will knock at our door at the end of the month.
For Halloween…I’ve decided to give out pencils…really. Unless a child eats one, I should be safe, right?!
- Kelly Kucera, Sr. Director, Industry & Commercial Marketing
- Krista Gervon, Americas Marketing Manager