How does your school or classroom celebrate birthdays, holidays and other school-wide events? Does it involve celebrations with foods like cupcakes, candy or ice cream? How often are these celebrations occurring?
Celebrations that involve foods high in sugar and saturated fat like cupcakes and candy send conflicting messages to students about health and wellness. Instead, schools can choose to celebrate in ways that promote student health and support the goals of the local school wellness policy.
One way to align celebrations with the school’s wellness initiatives is to use physical activity in place of food. Extra recess time, classroom dance parties or themed parades are great alternatives to food that students will love. Check out the additional resources below for more fun ideas!
Another way to align celebrations with the school’s wellness initiatives is to ensure all food products served to students meet Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards and Massachusetts Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools. When food is offered, include healthy offerings such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy or water. Additionally, The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University has two resources available to help in the selection of healthier snack and beverage items:
- The A-List is an up-to-date and ever-expanding list of single-serve vending and snack products available through distribution or direct ship from manufacturer* that meet both state and federal competitive food and beverage nutrition standards.
- MassNETS, The Massachusetts Nutrition Evaluation Tool for Schools, is a helpful tool developed by JSI to evaluate if a single-serving snack or beverage, including those purchased outside of the school nutrition program, meets the state and federal competitive food and beverage nutrition standards.
*A-List products are generally not available at your local grocery store; rather they are formulated to meet nutrition standards for school snacks and may be purchased by your school nutrition program.
Check out the resources below for additional non-food and healthy snack and beverage celebration ideas!
5 Steps to Healthier Celebrations, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Party the Healthy Way, Action for Healthy Kids
Celebrations & Rewards, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Birthday Parties & Healthy Holidays, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Tips for Parents, Teachers and More!, Cooperative Extension