Special events such as birthdays and holidays can be cause for regular celebrations at school. However, while these events are certainly worth celebrating, there are ways to do so that encourage healthy eating habits and do not put students at risk by encouraging an excessive consumption of sugar.
Jackson County Public Schools and the Jackson County Board of Education recommend four designated celebrations per year at each school approved in advance by the principal or their designee. Parents and guardians are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the celebration policy at their child’s school at the beginning of each school year.
In addition, the Jackson County Board of Education recommends that half of the food and beverages provided for celebrations comply with the federal “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards.
There are many items that meet these standards including all fresh fruits, vegetables and canned fruits packed in juice. Pre-packaged options for grains and wheat bread are also widely available.
Fruits and vegetables pair well with dairy products such as string cheese, low fat cheese cubes, non-fat or Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and skim milk. Vegetables can also be combined with a low fat dip.
Cereals such as Cheerios, Life and Kix along with high fiber crackers such as Triscuits, Kashi and Wheat Thins meet the federal standards for grains. Whole grain graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, light or air-popped popcorn, whole wheat pretzels, Fig Newtons and tortilla chips with salsa are also options. Nutri-Grain, Nature Valley and Kashi bars are high fiber and high protein snacks.
As a result of the dramatic increase in food allergies and the risk of foodborne illnesses, the Jackson County Board of Education prohibits home-produced items from being used for school-based parties.
Parents and community members may provide commercially prepared or packaged food and beverages for pre-approved celebrations. This also includes food and beverages available through the school nutrition program.
Jackson County Public Schools encourages and supports the consumption of healthy snacks at school. It is important to teach and promote a lifestyle that includes foods that are low in saturated fat, calories, sodium, trans-fat and processed sugar. Foods should be high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Proper nutrition gives students an advantage by providing lasting energy and the feeling of fullness.
For more information about the smart snack standards and school wellness policy, visit the School Nutrition page of the Jackson County Public Schools website at www.jcpsnc.org/nutrition.