St. Clair R-XIII students can be intelligent eaters when classes get underway next week through the Smart Snacks in School nutritional standards that are being implemented.

The reasoning behind the program is aimed at providing practical, science-based nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold to students during the school day. These nutrition standards will make healthier foods and beverages available to students, R-XIII Assistant Superintendent Mark Denbow said.  

The standards are being implemented during the 2014-15 school year. Its goal is to reauthorize child nutrition programs.

“We’re focusing primarily on nutritional health foods,” Denbow told The Missourian. “We’re trying to take out the bad calories, so to speak.”

The program will be in place at all four R-XIII schools.

Information states that healthy, well-nourished students are better learners and that students who consume healthier foods and beverages are more likely to get the nutrients they need to learn, play and grow.

Having healthier foods and beverages available contributes to the overall health and well-being of youth.

The program works by allowing students to buy snacks that meet common-sense standards for fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium while promoting products that have whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients. These could be whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products or protein foods.

The items also could be a “combination food” with at least a quarter-cup fruit and/or vegetable.

They also could contain 10 percent of the daily value of one nutrient of public health concern (calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber).

“This is a mandated deal for public schools,” Denbow said. “That’s my understanding.”

Smart Snacks will apply to all foods and beverages sold to students outside of the school meals programs, including vending machines, a la carte, and in-school fundraising.

The program will be in effect throughout the school day, including before school and 30 minutes after the final bell across the whole school campus.

Denbow said it should be noted that Smart Snacks will not apply to foods that are sent from home, such as a bagged lunch. In addition, the standards do not apply to classroom celebrations, evening extra-curricular activities, weekend or community events.

Per these guidelines, the St. Clair R-XIII School District no longer will offer a snack bar at the junior and senior high schools. However, students still will be able to purchase healthy a la carte items through the lunch line, using their lunch card only for all purchases.  

Examples of healthy a la carte items include salads, baked chips, fruit cups, parfaits and plain water.

District personnel will continue to search for new items that will meet the Smart Snacks guidelines.

Smart Snacks are the final phase of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

School begins in the St. Clair R-XIII district on Thursday, Aug. 14.