Tips for Kindergarten Snacks – from a Pro!

Friday, September 10, 2010 at 07:25 AM

In yesterday’s post, I answered a question sent in by a mom who had been required by her daughter’s Kindergarten teacher to send in peanut-free, packaged snacks to be shared by her daughter’s Kindergarten class. Not easy.  Thankfully, we will send our daughter to Kindergarten with an individual snack of our own choosing on a daily basis.  While this means that we will have to add the preparation of that  snack to our evening checklist of things to do, I prefer this to the communal snack method because our daughter is more likely to have a nutritious snack this way.

It’s hard to believe that my daughter starts Kindergarten this week.  Will I cry when my last born gets on the bus on Monday morning?  You bet I will!  Even though she is such a big girl with tons of day care and pre-school experiences behind her, she was very nervous when we went to Kindergarten orientation this week. 

She looks a little nervous, doesn’t she?  She was gripping my hand very tightly as we walked the hall to her classroom.  But as soon as we arrived, her teacher, Mrs. Simmons, put her right at ease. 

Mrs. Simmons was my son’s Kindergarten teacher, so I know her well.  She has one of those nice soothing, calming voices and she speaks so sweetly to the children.  I wish I could stay in Kindergarten all day too!

While the Classroom Aid introduced the children to some classroom routines, Mrs. Simmons sat down with us parents to do paperwork and go over some things.  I think we spent 20% of our time together discussing Snack Time. There are two things in Kindergarten that are A Very Big Deal: taking the bus to school and Snack Time.  So, we spent a lot of time on these things.  Thank Goodness this is my second time going through this!

Since I am now the Mommy Blogger for NuVal(I was not when my son was a Kindergartner), I took copious notes on Mrs. Simmons Snack Time Guidelines.  They were awesome!  She really is a pro at this. 

  1. A good snack is something that your child can handle independently.  (So fondue is out.)
  2. A good snack is something that your child can eat in 5-10 minutes.   (So leftover beef teriyaki on a stick is probably not a good choice – all that chewing.  Not to mention the stick could be used as a weapon once Snack Time was complete.)
  3. A good snack must be peanut free.  (This one isn’t even funny.  My heart goes out to children with allergies.  And it’s so important not to break this rule, because the kids work on these tables after they eat).
  4. A good snack contains no nuts at all.  (That means no tree nuts, no granola bars that were manufactured in factories that contain nuts.  Again, imagine if your  child had allergies).
  5. Fruit is a great snack.
  6. Cut up vegetables are a great snack.

Mrs. Simmons also told us that instead of bringing in cupcakes for birthday parties, she is encouraging that we think of something else.  Great idea.  OK, now I feel a little guilty about those Red, White and Blue cupcakes  I brought in when my son was in her class, but that’s OK.  Instead, she suggested that your birthday girl or boy could hand out stickers or pencils to everyone in class.  Love it!

Mrs. Simmons is an avid A Better Bag of Groceries  reader and I know that she works hard to make nutritious choices for her family, just like I try to do.  Most recently, she said that her own 7-year-old daughter is all into Star Fruit.  She likes it because it looks like a star.  Adorable!  And it scores a 100 on the NuVal scale.

So a huge Thank You to Mrs. Simmons for helping us to get started on the right foot with these great guidelines.  Now, I need to go make sure I have enough tissues ready for the big Kindergarten send-off coming up on Monday morning.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Posted by: Melissa 1 comment

Posted in: back-to-school, snacks

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ABBG Readers Ask, I Answer: Kindergarten Snacks

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 07:15 AM

In my role as the Mommy Blogger for NuVal, I get all sorts of questions.  This one came in from Sarah, and it was perfect for Back to School Week:

Melissa, could you do a little info on NuVal and packaged snacks? Parents in my daughter’s kindergarten class have been asked to provide the snacks all year. The big catch–there is a child with a peanut allergy (poor guy) and so all snacks have to be store purchased and packaged…ugh! My daughter is meeting all kinds of foods she’s never met before. Just this week she came home and told me about the Bugles they had for snack. Is it possible to have healthy, peanut-safe packaged snacks? Maybe they would let me bring bananas…hmmm.

Sarah, my heart goes out to you!  That is a conundrum.  In a perfect world, you could pack your daughter a nutritious snack (carrots & hummus, grapes, apple slices, a banana, yogurt) on a daily basis.  But it sounds like your classroom teacher has decided to use a communal snack technique.  And I think that makes a lot of sense in the classroom.  Everyone gets the same snack.  The children can learn about serving and sharing.  It’s all good.  Now, you just need to see if you can educate the other parents on what you’ve learned from NuVal scores – what the best packaged snacks are.

Now, as you know, NuVal scores foods on a scale from 1-100, and 100 is highest.  Not surprisingly, fruits and vegetables all score near 100.  Packaged foods, for the most part, score in the lower ranges.  Bugles Original, which you referenced, Sarah, score a 2 on the NuVal scale.  Too bad you can’t bring bananas because they score a 91.

So, Sarah, I scoured the NuVal database for you and searched high and low for the best-scoring packaged snacks that will appease your kindergarten student.  And believe me, I know.  My daughter starts kindergarten on Monday!

  • Keebler Grahams Crackers Cinnamon: 24
  • Annie’s Home Grown Bite Size Whole Wheat Bunnies: 27
  • Stauffer’s Animal Crackers Low-fat: 22
  • Pepperidge Farm Baked Whole Grain Goldfish: 28
  • Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips: 24
  • Nabisco Honey Maid Grahams Honey: 23
  • Sunshine Cheeze-It Reduced Fat: 23
  • Nabisco 100% Whole Grain Fig Newtons: 23
  • Original Triscuits: 32
  • Health Valley Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: 34
  • Pepperidge Farm Soft Baked Oatmeal Raisin Cookies: 20
  • Nabisco Mini Teddy Graham Honey Graham Snacks: 24
  • Nabisco Teddy Graham Chocolate Snacks: 26
  • Voortman Iced Oatmeal Cookies: 23
  • Bearitos Organic Blue Corn Chips: 40
  • Garden of Eatin No Salt Added Blue Chips: 52

Sarah, I hope this list helps you and your kindergarten class to have a more nutritious year.  While the packaged foods don’t score nearly as high as fresh produce, you can find better choices than Bugles.  I would suggest that you share this post with all of the parents in your daughter’s kindergarten class, but I’m afraid that the parent who brought in the Bugles will just die in shame!  Hey, we all can’t get A’s all the time.  Just buy something more nutritious next time!

In my own daughter’s kindergarten class, each parent sends in an individual snack on a daily basis.  At Kindergarten Orientation today, our kindergarten teacher gave us some great guidelines for snacks, so come back tomorrow to see what she had to say!

Big Y Supermarkets Officially Launch NuVal Today

Attention all Massachusetts and Connecticut shoppers.  Near a Big Y  Supermarket?  If you answered “yes”, get in your car and drive on over to one today.  Today is Big Y’s official NuVal Launch!  Congratulations to Phill Schneider, John Schnepp, Carrie Taylor, Andrea Samson and to everyone who we’ve been working with at Big Y to make this Launch a huge success.  Very well done.  Lucky for me there is a Big Y just about 15 minutes from my house!

Posted by: Melissa 7 comments

Posted in: Readers Ask