A few weeks ago, I wrote about the parade of crappy food at my son’s soccer games–and I vowed to push for a change the next opportunity I got.
So when t-ball started a few weeks ago, I immediately wrote to the coach and asked if we could establish a healthier snack policy. His response: “I support this 100%”.
Here is the email I sent to team parents:
I was asked to head up the snack schedule for our t-ball season. And I’m making a radical suggestion: Remember the orange slices we all ate on the sidelines when we were kids playing sports? Let’s bring back that tradition!
I’m proposing this because as a registered dietitian and a mom, I’m concerned about the snacks being offered at kids’ sports games around the city. And from my conversations with other parents on the soccer and t-ball sidelines over the last year or two, I know many of you probably are as well.
We want our kids to play sports so they move their bodies, burn off their energy, and be healthy–and all of this is canceled out by handing them Oreos and a Capri Sun after a game. The truth is, our kids spend a lot of time in sports waiting on the sidelines or standing in the outfield. Yes, they’re learning about the sport and picking up skills, but they aren’t sweating and moving enough to justify a big snack of junk food.
Here’s what the coach and I are asking of you: Everyone bring their own water bottles, and parents take turns bringing fruit. This fruit-only snack policy benefits everyone because there’s less cost (when it’s your turn to bring snacks, you are only in charge of bringing fruit, and you can easily buy fruit for the whole team plus siblings for around $5) and less mess (no packages to pick up, no juice pouches in landfills). And because we won’t be feeding them junk, that also means they’ll be hungry for lunch or dinner afterward.
Feel free to bring any fresh fruit you’d like (please wash it so it’s ready to grab and eat). You can also bring small boxes of raisins, but please do not bring fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks, since those don’t contain any real fruit and are mostly added sugar.
Some ideas: Orange slices, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, watermelon slices, grapes (cut into small bunches the kids can grab), berries or melon balls/cubes (put them in paper cups so kids can pour them into their mouths with no fork necessary), small boxes of raisins.
If you don’t think your child will eat fruit or feel he needs something more after the game, please bring your own snack and give it to your child when he’s away from the field. Please don’t bring extras to share with other players.
Remember to bring a full bottle of water to each game for your child. Please do not bring flavored water pouches or juice boxes for players. The best thing for kids to drink before, during, and after sports is regular water. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recently warned that most kids don’t even need sports drinks. The electrolytes lost during sweat can easily be replaced at their next meal.)
Will the kids grumble about the lack of Doritos? They might at first. But frankly, my kids grumble about brushing their teeth and going to bed! But I know these things are important for their health. This is too.
With this snack policy, our team can set an example for the whole league. We all care about our kids and want the best for them, so let’s start here.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this snack policy.
Then I held my breath. Would parents rally behind the Ritz Bits and take me to task for being uptight?
Exactly the opposite. I got emails back saying, “LOVE IT!”, “Wow, this is wonderful!”, ” Thanks for saying something!” and best of all, “It’s about time someone took a stand on this!”
After the first game of the season, the Bad News Bears Orioles ate every last piece of watermelon I brought. No one asked, “Where are the chips?” Nobody complained.
Until we got to the parking lot where the ice cream truck was stationed. Then it hit the fan. But that’s another post entirely.
For more on mobilizing your community, here’s a great resource from the Meal Makeover Moms.