Team Snack Guideline and a Sample Letter to the Editor

SAMPLE Team Snack Guideline: Fruit & Water Only (Implemented by Lexington United Soccer Club, Lexington, MA in 2007)

All sports-based programs, including practices, games and clinics, should limit “team” snacks to fruit and water only. This guideline applies to foods and beverages brought by parents and served to the team before, during and after the soccer-based activity.

NOTES:

  • “Team” snack specifically refers to the snack assigned to each parent on a rotating basis to provide for the entire team.
  • Recommended fruit may be either fresh or dried. See list below for examples.

BACKGROUND:
In an effort to align the (insert name of sports club here) with the positive health and nutrition messages taught to young children and teens throughout the school year, it is recommended that the “team” snacks served before, during, and after in-town and travel (insert name of sport) games be limited to fruit and water only.

While standard health messages include limiting sweets, salty snacks, and other non-nutritive foods for optimal nutritional and dental health, the distribution of cookies, donuts, candy, ice cream, sugary “juice” and sports drinks, and salty chips as “reward” for being physically active (i.e. playing sports for 90 minutes) sends a conflicting message to children and undermines their overall health and well being.

When children are enticed to play sports or rewarded for a “great game” with cookies, donuts and other treats:

  • They may learn to focus on the rewards as the best part of learning or being physically active.
  • They may become more focused on external rewards rather than internal rewards (i.e. they move away from the concept that “being a good sport makes me feel proud” to “an hour on the playing field gets me cookies”).
  • When children associate treats as rewards, they may expect sugary and salty “snacks” to be part of every type of achievement. This may encourage a lifetime habit of self-rewarding with treats and set children up for future dental and health problems.

Fresh and dried fruit options can include the following:

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Dried Apricots
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Tangerines
  • Pineapple


SAMPLE LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
Liz and her husband wrote this letter to the Lexington Minuteman in 2007. It sparked a lot of positive dialog in the community and eventually led to a Fruit & Water Only snack guideline with the local youth soccer club. Feel free to adapt this letter for use in your community. 

Bring Back the Oranges … Please!

If your child participates in a youth sport — soccer, baseball, softball, lacrosse — and you’ve been asked to bring a “team” snack, what sorts of foods have you provided? Before you answer that question, consider the halftime nibbles of oranges and apples that parents used to bring. Today, that sideline snack scenario has changed, however, such that many players now expect an après-game “reward” of junk food. The choices are many: Doritos, Oreos, Fruit Roll-Ups, donuts, Rice Krispy Treats, and Kool-Aid. Read the label on any of those foods and you’ll see ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (a fat that’s converted into cholesterol-raising trans fats), sugar, high fructose corn syrup, salt, and artificial colors and flavors.

Junk food is fine once in a while but, sadly, many kids eat it way too often. And on weekends when children bounce from soccer to baseball to softball, they end up devouring more high-calorie, nutritionally empty goodies than on any other day of the week. It just doesn’t feel right. Many youngsters today are overweight or obese while lots more are poorly nourished – eating nowhere near the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

We are writing this letter to urge every parent and coach in (insert: name of your town) who participate in a youth sport to go back to the old days when fruit was the only thing parents brought to games. If all of us agree to make that commitment, every child will benefit and no child will feel cheated when they don’t get a bag of chips or cookies after a game. It’s a small step but an important one. Physical activity and good nutrition should go hand in hand, so let’s all make it happen NOW.

The way we see it, kids are not born liking Doritos and Oreos. Eating habits are learned. This weekend, teach your children that all they need after an hour of soccer or an afternoon of baseball is a sweet snack of fresh fruit. Trust us. They’ll gobble it up.

(Sign your name here)

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Helpful Resources:

Snacktivism campaign created by Real Mom Nutrition

Do Youth Sports Prevent Pediatric Obesity? Study published by American College of Sports Medicine

A Little More on Junk Food Soccer Snacks by Bettina Elias Siegel at The Lunch Tray

 

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