Six Steps to Healthy Eating

For Site Leaders

Know your healthy eating standards or policies, who’s responsible for buying snacks, how much you have to spend, where snacks are purchased, if you have space to store them, and a healthy menu?

Review the steps below to see just how simple it is to start serving healthy foods and beverages today!


Step 1 - What are the Standards and Guidelines?

Why?

The first step to serving healthy snacks is knowing the guidelines and/or standards your program or organization recognizes.

Tip

If the program does not recognize a set of guidelines or standards choose a set you would like the program to follow.


Step 2 - Who's Buying

Why?

Talking to the person who purchases foods and beverages for the program can help you understand why some foods and beverages appear on the menu and some do not, and work together to serve healthier items.

Step

Share the standards or guidelines the program recognizes with the snack buyer. Meet with the buyer to discuss adding healthier snacks that meet standards or guidelines.

Tip

Building a relationship with the buyer can help you work together to serve the healthiest snacks possible.


Step 3 - What's Your Budget?

Why?

Any foods and beverages your program serves must fit within the program budget.

Step

Identify the amount of money your program has to spend on snacks. If you are not the buyer, ask the buyer about the budget when you meet with them. This could be the amount you have to spend per day for each child enrolled or a weekly or monthly amount.

Tip

Find out if your program is enrolled in a snack or meal reimbursement program. Make sure your program has budgeted enough money to purchase and the time to prepare any new snacks. Save receipts for a week or more and calculate out how much you have to spend.

Want to reduce cost? SERVE ONLY WATER!


Step 4 - Where are Foods and Beverages Purchased?

Why?

An essential part of serving healthy foods and beverages is identifying vendors that have healthy items for a price that fits your budget.

Step

Identify potential and/or current food/beverage vendors in the area. Contact or visit the vendors for a list of items and their prices. Identify healthy items that fit within your program’s budget.

Tip

Leverage the amount of food you will buy weekly for a discount, especially if you are buying for multiple programs. It never hurts to ask if they will give the program a discount.


Step 5 - What Space is Available to Store and Prepare?

Why?

Fruits and vegetables must be stored and prepared appropriately to ensure they are fresh, tasty, and appealing to children. Plus, they take up more room to store than other types of foods, so you need to know just how much space you’ll need to store all the healthy foods!

Step

Identify proper storage practices for perishable and non-perishable snacks and the places they can be stored for the program. Identify food preparation space and materials that are available to the program for the boxes of fruits or vegetables you now be storing. Does the program have cutting boards and knives? Does the program have a sink for washing fruits and vegetables?

Tip

Be creative when identifying storage space. Programs in schools can work with cafeteria managers to secure space. Ask colleagues if they have any space in which the program can store food. Children are more likely to eat sliced fruit, but slicing fruit requires space, a cutting board and knife, and a staff members’ time. Make sure to consider preparation when identifying snacks the program will serve.


Step 6 - What's the Menu?

Why?

Menus ensure that children, parents, program staff, and the buyer all know the types of healthy foods and beverages served in your program.

Step

Create a rotating one or two week menu. You may need to make this menu together with the buyer.
Click here to start making a healthy menu today

Tip

Dips help children eat their fruits and veggies. Serving half a fruit and a lower cost grain reduces cost. Try serving water as the only beverage.