Competitive food options become healthier

Competitive food options become healthier

With concerns rising about obesity and other health issues, there has been a push for healthier snacks

Competitive foods and beverages sold outside of the federally-reimbursed school meals programs are common in districts across the country.

They’re sold in vending machines and at snack bars, school stores and fundraisers. But with concerns rising about childhood obesity and other health issues, there has been a push for healthier snacks.

Change has been driven by national legislation such as the Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages, which was issued in October 2013. These standards limit calories, salt, sugar and fat, and promote snacks that contain whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein as the main ingredients.

Schools have many competitive food options that meet these new requirements while remaining appealing for students in all grades.

Campbell's Foodservice

Soups, tomato sauce and juice are just a few of the products Campbell’s offers for schools. Its subsidiary, Pepperidge Farm, produces Goldfish Baked Snack Crackers and Graham, which are made with whole grain and have been formulated to meet new USDA competitive foods regulations. They’re appropriate for breakfast, lunch and à la carte menus at school.


Danimals SuperStars Greek Low Fat Yogurt is one of the company’s many yogurt products sold in schools. Recently, the company announced it’s working with the Partnership for a Healthier America to increase the number of nutrients in its products while also reducing sugar and fat. The sugar content of Danimals Smoothies, a children’s product, was cut by 25 percent last year.


Six-inch Subway sandwiches with vegetables and nine-grain wheat bread meet the reimbursable National School Lunch Program requirements. These sandwiches for schools include ham, Italian BMT, roast beef, turkey breast and tuna. For a snack or smaller meal, three-inch sandwiches with vegetables on nine-grain wheat bread are served in Subway’s à la carte program. All of these sandwiches contain less than 500 mg of sodium.

Mondelez International

Mondelez distributes four whole grain-rich snack items for K12 schools. From Nabisco, there are the small bear-shaped cookies called Cinnamon Teddy Grahams and Honey Maid Lil’ Squares, which are bite-size, honey-flavored graham crackers. The other two snacks are varieties of Belvita’s soft-baked breakfast biscuits in mixed berry and chocolate flavors. These biscuits contain 20 percent of daily fiber and can be served with yogurt or fruit.

Ocean Spray

Servings of cranberries add vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants to school meals. Cranberries also meet several USDA school lunch guidelines by being naturally low in sodium and calories. Cafeterias can use Ocean Spray dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and frozen cranberries in salad bars, smoothies, sandwiches and oatmeal.

General Mills

New to General Mills’ snack portfolio, Nature Valley Crisps, in cinnamon and chocolate chip, are both regulation-ready and kid-friendly. Each 1.2-ounce bag of Nature Valley Crisps contains three oat biscuits and meets 1-ounce equivalent grain guidelines from the USDA “Smart Snacks in Schools” standards. The new snack is appropriate as à la carte or reimbursable meal option for both breakfast and lunch.


Chobani offers a range of products—including single-serve Greek yogurt—specifically for schools. The new Chobani Flip Greek Yogurt comes in 10 flavors and includes a topping in an adjoining container that can be flipped into the yogurt. Chobani contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives and the milk comes from farms near the product’s distribution area. All Chobani products are also high in protein.