Keep it simple. Water should always be the preferred beverage. Whether you have pitchers on the tables, large jugs you fill up and bring outside, or a drinking fountain in a classroom, make sure water is always available and accessible. More importantly, encourage the children to actually drink it!
Although it might taste great, please remember that flavored milk does not meet HEPA Standards. Even if the milk is low-fat or sugar-free, it still needs to be unflavored. If you are purchasing your own milk, it's an easy switch! If you are receiving milk through a third-party or school cafeteria, have a discussion with the provider about only having unflavored milk available during afterschool snacks and meals.
Make the most out of snack time. If your staff sit with the children during meals, they not only have the opportunity to build relationships, but they can also start conversations about healthy eating. Don't just let the children throw away the food they don't like, sit with them and encourage them to try it!
Let's start the new year by making some healthy choices. If you currently purchase snack for your program, below are some HEPA-compliant, cost effective ideas found at Wal-Mart. (And don't need refrigeration!)