• Children's Center

    Back to School: Lunch line Options and After-School Snacks

Boy is tempted by a plate of pastries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently updated its recommendations for its “Smart Snacks in Schools” proposal, including limiting in-school snacks to 200 calories a day.

Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian Diane Dressel offers parents snack options that meet caloric standards, while also taking into account portability, perishability, food allergies and dietary restrictions. Dressel says, “What better time to get kids into healthy eating patterns than at a young age,” and encourages any snack idea to include fruits or vegetables.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Grapes and pretzels
  • Apples and string cheese or baked chips
  • Carrots and fat-free dip
  • Yogurt with strawberries or blueberries

Mayo Clinic dietitian Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.,L.D., offers more tips. Zeratsky says that while you can't go through the school lunch line with your child, you can offer some guidance ahead of time about making healthy choices.

Journalists: Sound bites from Katherine Zeratsky on student nutrition tips and healthy food b-roll video are available in the downloads. 

/// Sound Bite  SCHOOL LUNCH LINE OPTIONS - Katherine Zeratsky, Mayo Clinic Registered Dietician (pronounced: zer-OT-skee) "You can talk to them about all the different food groups and make sure they’re getting fruits and vegetables, some rich source of protein, something starchy to keep them fueled. All those are just great opportunities."   TRT :11   

As far as after-school snacking goes, Zeratsky suggest putting healthier foods out in the line of sight, such as a bowl of fruit.

/// Sound Bite  AFTER SCHOOL SNACKS -  Katherine Zeratsky, Mayo Clinic Registered Dietician (pronounced: zer-OT-skee) "If kids are on their own and making independent food choices, having available to them healthy choices, or maybe picking a special drawer in the refrigerator, all the things in this drawer, you don’t need to ask mom or dad."  TRT :13

For parents with student athletes, remind kids to drink enough water to stay hydrated, perhaps even have them carry a water bottle. Zeratsky says it's also wise to remember their extra physical activity may require more fuel.

/// Sound Bite  SNACKS FOR ATHLETES -  Katherine Zeratsky, Mayo Clinic Registered Dietician (pronounced: zer-OT-skee) "Another thing is, you might want to consider packing them an extra snack, whether it be granola, cheese and crackers, some fruit  to fuel before their event or practice because it’s probably been a few hours since lunchtime.”  TRT :15

If your child must travel for sports, it's also a good idea to send along a healthy snack for after their event.

Check out these healthy recipes. Additional healthy recipes can be found at mayoclinichealthsystem.org.