An Elementary School Snack List – Nut-Free

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As I mentioned in a “school lunch” post last year, my daughter’s elementary school is peanut/tree nut-free. Not only are peanuts and tree nuts not allowed, but foods made in factories that handle nuts are not allowed either. As a result, the school sends out a “safe snack” list so parents know what store-bought snacks are “safe” and approved.

When I first got a hold of this list last year my eyes just about bugged out of my head. Fresh off our original “100 Days of Real Food” pledge, I felt compelled to sit down and count how many snack suggestions I would consider to be “real food approved.” Out of the 200 or so safe snack suggestions only 17 items, approximately 7%, were “real” whole foods. The rest were highly processed including suggestions like Wendy’s Frosties, Skittles, Oreos, Fritos, Airheads, Cheese Puffs, Twizzlers, Chips Ahoy, and Gummy Bears (for a morning snack for little kids!!). I knew I couldn’t just sit around and complain. I had to get involved and try to change things.

So I met with the principal and assistant principal last spring and as soon as I said the word “food” they of course thought I wanted to address the food in the cafeteria. They don’t have control over what is served for breakfast or lunch, but I told them that was just fine because I actually had a long list of other things I wanted to address first including…

  • The school’s “safe snack” list, which is full of highly processed snack suggestions
  • Student rewards and activities, which commonly involve junk food like “Popsicles with the Principal” and “Skittle Sort” (why not a button sort?)
  • Students are also commonly served cupcakes, cookies, and other treats for birthdays and celebrations in the classroom. Occasionally even more than one dessert treat a day is served on top of treats that are brought in from home and/or purchased in the cafeteria.
  • School fundraising events that encourage students and their families to dine at locations such as Donatos Pizza and Chick-fil-A.
  • Box Top class rewards that include a pizza party, Krispy Kreme Donut party, and a cupcake decorating party

Click image to download the “Elementary School Safe Snack List”

Those are just a few of the observations that alarmed me last year, which was our first year with a child in elementary school. It was also our first school year after deciding to cut out all highly processed food, so I guess one could say I was highly sensitive to it all. Anyway, I was thrilled that the principal immediately handed me the reins of the “safe snack” list without a problem. I then partnered with another mom to come up with an addendum to the list because while they said we could add items to it we could not take anything away. They said if Krispy Kreme donuts were not on the list as being nut-free then someone would surely send in Dunkin’ Donuts. But a compromise was fine with me. We can keep all the junk on there if we can also put our “healthy snack” addendum smack dab on the front…because I consider that progress.

So without further ado, here is a link to the “snack list addendum” that another mom and I worked very hard to create. Whether you want to use these snack ideas for your school or just for inspiration when packing your own kids snacks please feel free to use the list however you choose. I’ve already turned it into our principal and so far she says it looks great. I was a little worried the description of “real food” versus “not real food” might offend some parents, but I figured I would let the principal make that call. We have our back-to-school orientation this week, and I am very anxious to see if they actually use our list with the “safe snack” handouts…keeping my fingers crossed!

Next up I hope to address the issue of all the junk food that’s used for rewards and activities by coming up with a list of alternatives. I will keep you posted on the progress!

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229 comments to An Elementary School Snack List – Nut-Free

  • lori

    Hi All,

    Lisa had contacted me in regards to my post on the nut-free list. Thank you for your concern. With food allergies, cross-contamination in food is a serious concern for allergic people as it can trigger a severe reaction.

    The “Eden Organic” brands and Clif Kid foods should be removed. While some companies say their food is “nut free” the food is produced in a facility with nuts or other allergens. The danger of dried fruits is that most of them are produced with nuts because dried fruits and nuts go hand in hand.

    I realize it is an inconvenience for parents of non-allergic kids to pack healthy foods your child will eat and then have to accomodate allergies. I understand because as a parent of a nut allergic child, we have to eliminate many foods my child would love but cannot eat. It is tough to plan and shop ahead, but it does get easier with practice.

    Our school isn’t nut free, but children are instructed not to share foods and wash your hands and mouth after lunch and snacks. This helps to create a safer school environment.

    I do appreciate reading this site and all the great ideas that help with cooking, healthier eating and nutrition education. Thank you Lisa for this site!

    And Denise, I do live in the Bay area and my tone wasn’t about an out of date list, but when you have a food allergic child, you will understand.

  • Karie

    Could labeling this a “safe” snack list without it being signed off by a licensed physician whose primary focus is on children with food allergies….open you up to a lawsuit? I just ask this after reading comments from Lori. OK. I see the disclaimer at the bottom of the page, but still wanted to ask if you could elaborate on the legal angle. Also, I love all the fruit ideas. However, our school requires pre-packaged foods to be brought for snack so all ingredients can be read on the label. So…for fruit and raw veggies…are you allowed to wash and cut those items up to bring to school? Or do you have to buy a fruit or veggie tray that was prepared by your local grocer? Love this site. Haven’t gotten to 100% real food yet, but still much better than 6 months ago. Thanks!

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi there Karie. Beyond the disclaimer, I am not sure what you are looking for regarding legalities? As for the fruits and veggies, anything we send in for our OWN children can be cut up, homemade, etc. as long as we label it clearly with specific ingredients that have not been not been processed/packaged in a nut facility. If it is something that will be shared with the classroom, it has to be store bought, or purchased through our school cafeteria and labeled with ingredients and clearly processed without nuts. Hope that helps. ~Amy

  • This product is made in a peanut/tree nut free facility. They take toasted oats and cover them with creamy soybutter…comes out like a granola product and is really great tasting. Send your address to the e-mail and I will make sure your daughters school will receive samples. In a 32gram serving 140 Calories 4grams sugar 5grams protein PLEASE check this product out.

  • Hi,
    Thank you for this post. I am a new to your site and really enjoyed this article on “real food” in school. I have tried very hard to keep our family diet VERY CLEAN and even then am just discovering my daughter (age 4) is showing signs of several food sensitivities. My twin boys recently came home with a “wagon wheel” as a “treat” from their teacher for doing a job well done. A WAGON WHEEL? Really? They are in a new school and in grade one and we just moved to a large city from a small town and this is new to us. I was unaware teachers gave (what I call) poison as a treat. I was instantly angry and my son sadly gave me his “treat” after I explained, again, how sugar affects our bodies. After discussing this with his teacher it was left that my boys will be given something different as a reward. Now I have singled them out amongst their peers because I believe in raising healthy kids? How does that work? (Sarcasm)
    Thank you for posting this. At this moment I feel as if I am the only parent in their class that is actually aware of what “real food” is. I hope I am wrong.

  • […] Approach from Kitchen Stewardship 85 Snack Ideas for Kids (and Adults) from 100 Days of Real Food An Elementary School Snack List *Free Printable* from 100 Days of Real Food “Whole Food” Snacks for Kids and Adults […]

  • Julie Bell

    This list is excellent! Can I distribute this to the families in my k-5 building?
    Thank you!

  • Hi! We love your blog!!! We just wanted to let you know that we are a “nut free” manufacturer of cookies and cupcakes. All of our products are also Vegan, preservative and filler free and fresh baked. Please go to our website at http://www.sweetalexis.com for more information.

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