Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? I’d like to spotlight a story from a local PTSA in celebration of nutrition education and healthy lifestyles.
This school year, J.L. Mann High School’s PTSA in Greenville, South Carolina adapted items sold in their school store to ensure compliance with the new federally mandated Smart Snacks guidelines. The guidelines which set standards for calories, fat, sodium and sugar went into effect on July 1, 2014.
Many of the foods and beverages sold in the school store in previous years—candy bars, cinnamon rolls, gummy worms, chocolate candies, hot chocolate—would not meet the new guidelines. Parents worked diligently to make the necessary changes and purchase foods and beverages that would meet the guidelines beginning this school year.
After spending hours in Walmart and Sam’s Club with the Smart Snacks product calculator, a parent spearheading the efforts was at a loss. There were very few foods that met the guidelines and the ones that did would not be affordable to the students or the students wouldn’t like them. After contacting manufacturers directly with no success, the parent decided to reach out to a vendor to purchase directly from them.
With some hesitation due to weekly order quotas, one vendor decided to allow the PTSA to have an account, which was finalized in February (four months after this process began). J.L. Mann High School’s PTSA works closely with their vendor representative who seeks out Smart Snacks compliant items just for them!
Although the initial process of transitioning the school store was difficult, the parents were determined to meet the guidelines and have a successful school store. The store purchases whole wheat bagels from a local bakery and sell nearly nine dozen a day. It also sells items including whole wheat muffins, dried fruit and flavored waters, however, fresh fruit cups and Mannchables name after the school mascot seem to be the best-sellers.
The fruit cups are composed of apples, oranges, grapes, watermelon, and pineapple while the Mannchables contain celery, carrots, ranch dressing, cheese stick, nutrition bar and fruit. In three days the school store sold 120 fruit cups and they sell 30-50 Mannchables per week!
With a lot of determination, hard work and dedication, J.L. Mann High School is ensuring that their school store complies with the new guidelines and provides healthy foods and beverages for the students! Check out their local news feature on Greenville Online.
Want to learn more about Smart Snacks? Visit PTA.org/SmartSnacks or email SchoolFoods@pta.org for more info.
Stephanie Simms is the school nutrition policy fellow for the National PTA.