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Snacks may provide about one-quarter of the nutrients and calories children consume each day.

Most children and adults do not meet the daily recommended amounts of dairy, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Aim to combine 2 or more food groups during snack time as a mini meal to help bridge nutrient gaps.

What role do snacks play in healthy eating patterns?

Most American children are eating high-calorie snacks that offer little nutrition.1 Smart snacking can play a key role in healthy eating patterns. Snacks from the food groups are a great way for children and adolescents to meet their daily nutrient requirements and have energy throughout the day.

Snacking Patterns of U.S. Adolescents (USDA.gov)

What is nutrient density and why does it matter?

Nutrient-dense foods and beverages provide a high level of nutrition for the calories provided. Eating the recommended amounts of nutrient-dense foods from each food group is the best approach to building a healthy eating pattern. Foods that are calorie-dense and contain high amounts of fats, added sugar, or salt with minimal nutrients should be eaten less often.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 (DietaryGuidelines.gov)

What are schools doing to ensure snacks sold on school campus are nutritionally adequate?

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires minimum nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, other than the federally supported meals programs. In many instances, school districts have opted to go above and beyond state and federal nutrition standards. Local school wellness policies, which are required, support these standards in school meal programs, during fundraisers, at class parties, and in concessions.

Smart Snacks (CDC.gov)


  1. Hess J, Slavin J. Snacking for a cause: Nutritional insufficiencies and excesses of U.S. children, a critical review of food consumption patterns and macronutrient and micronutrient intake of U.S. children. Nutrients. 2014;6(11):4750–9. doi: http://doi.org/10.3390/nu6114750