Are “Smart Snacks” Really That Smart?


Outline for how to manage a healthy, balanced diet.

Since last year, the type of food distributed to students in schools has changed dramatically. Then, students used to be given multiple breakfast, entrée, snack, and drink choices both in school and after school. Now, however, schools across the country are more focused on providing students with healthy selections of food. But is that always a good thing?

Beginning on the first of July, 2014, a USDA mandate required the nation’s schools to cease the selling of “unhealthy junk food in cafeterias, vending machines, or at bake sale fundraisers that occur during school hours.” Foods given to students must contain “whole grains, a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein-rich food.” This would encourage them to be healthier and would hopefully reduce the growing rate of childhood obesity. So far, over 90% of schools nationwide are participating, but some students are not. The National School Lunch Program data shows that in 2013 before the mandate was issued, 30,677,772 students ate their school lunch yet in 2014, that number dropped by a staggering 22,016. Compared to students participating in 2010 when the Hunger-Free Kids Act was just put into place, the number dropped by 1,295,070.

Most students wouldn’t mind a change in cafeteria food if they had other options in vending machines or after school, but those were taken away, too. Not only do these choices allow students to make their own decisions, but they can increase the amount of money given to the school. For example, due to the new regulations, students are no longer allowed to sell pizza or Chick-fil-A sandwiches once the dismissal bell rings. This prevents certain clubs and organizations from raising money towards their cause(s). Dylan Staudmyer (’17) believes students should be able to sell food product like they did before. He says, “Even though I don’t buy it, it is a good source of income for whoever is selling it.” Dylan also pointed out the popularity of after school snacks. Sports players and people who stayed after school looked forward to being able to buy something to eat before they had to hit the field or hit the books. Unfortunately, students will have to settle for the food given to them or find a way to bring lunches and snacks from home.