Sports Snacktivism Handbook

by Sally on August 28, 2012

If you’re fed up with junk food snacks on the sidelines and want to take Snacktivism to your child’s team, I’d love to help you!

Below are four resources for you to use

  1. A sample coach letter
  2. A sample team letter
  3. FAQ to answer questions from coaches or parents
  4. A slideshow of photos and stats to share
Please feel free to use these resources for your own teams. You can also download the letter and FAQ by clicking on the title.

Sample Coach Letter

Hi Coach ____,

I wanted to introduce myself. I’m _____’s parent, and we’re all excited about the upcoming season!

I’m writing because I’d like to discuss the topic of team snacks with you. I’m wondering if you would be open to either eliminating the team snack entirely or creating a fresh-fruit-and-water snack policy for our team this season (remember the orange slices we ate on the sidelines when we were kids?). I’m concerned about the junk food I’ve been seeing on the sidelines of kids’ sports. One of the reasons we have our kids in sports is to encourage physical activity and good health, and these kinds of snacks derail that goal. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. And if you decide to go with fresh fruit, I’m also happy to organize a snack schedule for you. 

Thank you!

Sample Team Letter

 Hi everyone,

The coach has asked me to organize the snack schedule this season, and we have a great idea: Remember the orange slices we all ate on the sidelines when we were kids? Let’s bring back them back! We want our kids to play sports so they move their bodies, burn off energy, and be strong–so let’s give them a snack that keeps them healthy.

Here’s what the coach and I are asking of you: Every child brings a water bottle, and parents take turns bringing fresh fruit for after the game. 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, no drinks) and less mess (no packages to pick up, no juice pouches in landfills). It 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 are mostly added sugar).

Some ideas: Orange slices, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, watermelon slices, grapes (cut into small bunches), berries or melon balls/chunks in paper cups.

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 you’re away from the field.

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, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The electrolytes lost during sweat can easily be replaced at their next meal.

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 do something great for their health!

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this snack policy.

Thank you!

Sports Snack Policy FAQ

Why fruit?

Fresh fruit has a little bit of carbohydrates for energy and lots of water for hydration. And kids simply need more of it: 75% of 6-11 year olds don’t get enough fruit. And on any given day, 25% of toddlers and preschoolers don’t eat a single bite of it.

What if I don’t have time to wash and cut up fruit?

Grab a bunch of bananas. It takes the same amount of time to grab those as it does to grab a few boxes of gummy fruit snacks. They’re cheaper, too.

What about sports drinks? Don’t kids need those after exercising?

Actually, no. Sports drinks are designed for endurance athletes. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that most kids need only water to hydrate during and after sports. Those drinks just add a lot of extra calories (plus sugar and dyes). Kids can replenish any lost electrolytes at the next meal or snack.

But our kids are burning off a ton of calories on the soccer field, aren’t they?

Kids burn off far fewer calories in team sports than we think. According to a recent study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the average 8 year old burns only 150 calories in an hour of sports—but the typical after-game snack has 300- 500 calories.

Don’t kids deserve a treat every once in a while?

The problem is that kids get treats at every turn: School, daycare, preschool, parties. Treats are not the exception anymore; they’ve become the rule. Toddlers and preschoolers get 16 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and 6-11 year olds get 24 teaspoons. One in three children is overweight or obese today. (That’s triple the rate from when we were kids.)

My child won’t eat fruit. Why don’t’ you just bring some fruit for your kid?

The simple fact is that most kids are not going to choose fruit over a Fruit Roll-Up if given the chance. And don’t underestimate your child: You’d be surprised at the effect that positive peer pressure has on kids. They’re more likely to eat something new or different if they see their friends chowing down on it too. But if you’d prefer that your child have something else, give it to them in the car on the way home.

Why do we even need snacks?

We don’t. If all of the parents are in favor of eliminating snacks, let’s go for it. Less hassle for everyone.

Soccer Mom On A Mission Slideshow

View the slideshow on my blog here.

Or on YouTube here.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryann August 28, 2012 at 10:50 am

Nice letter Sally. I volunteered to be in charge of snack sign up and will use your ideas!

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Katie August 29, 2012 at 8:57 am

Love that you’ve coined a new term: Snacktivism. I’m stealing that immediately.

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Liz August 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Bummer, I already sent out snack schedules and info for the season! This would have been great two weeks ago for me. I feel like I would just be bossy if I changed things a couple weeks in. I’ll remember it for spring season though. Thanks!

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Sally August 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Liz–sorry I was too late for your schedule. But it’s never too late for you to bring something healthy! :)

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Wendy September 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Sally,
I share your opinions on sport team snacks and you are right on the mark in your other article – people don’t always like change! I used to be more of a ‘snacktivist’ but have backed off because it feels like an uphill battle. Yesterday (before I came across your blog) I wrote to the president of our local rec league asking that we completely remove snack schedules from our teams. In my opinion, even fruits can be problematic for various reasons so I think each parent should bring or not bring what they see fit and the team sport should just be about the sport. Kids can bring water but ‘re-fuel’ on their own. I think this course would please everyone and also remove a lot of hassle from the parents & coaches trying to figure out what to bring for everyone. Great blog – thanks!

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Lisa September 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Thanks for a great blog and letter. My daughter has played soccer for several years and I am so disgusted with the idea that we reward our children for doing something good for their bodies by plying them with junk and sugary drinks that they don’t need. After our game last weekend, my daughter got a rice krispie bar and a bag of candy. Seriously?? Even if fresh fruit isn’t an option, there’s a variety of dried fruit out there (and/or nuts if allergies aren’t an issue.) Just go to Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s carries raisins and dried korean shingo pears that would be perfect for games. I know, however, that if I handed out pencils or fruit after a game, I’d be the most unpopular mom on the team. Oh, well!!!

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Sally September 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Thanks Lisa! Sorry to hear about that snack. Yikes. I wonder if your girl’s team might like something fun like fruit kebabs. They are a little fancier than whole fruit, and what kid doesn’t like food on a stick? :)

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Alli March 16, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Alright! I am now the soccer coach for my son’s 3&4 year old soccer team. I just made an PDF showcasing fruit and water as our “Super Soccer Snacks.” Thanks for the great stats and resources. We’ll see how parents react next week!

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Sally March 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Alli–terrific! Please keep me posted!

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Colleen Grossner March 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Hi Sally! Me again! This is AWESOME!!! I really hope that my girls’ teams will get on board with this! I had them bring orange slices last season for half time (like back in the day!), and asked for 100% juice after the game and a “healthy” treat. It all went pretty good, but I LOVE your letter, and LESS in total!! Everything here is awesome, and I am going to pass it on to the commisioners of both leagues — fingers crossed that they will pass it on too!! Awesome, awesome job!!!! Thank you so much!!!

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Melissa @ My Whole Food Life April 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm

LOVE this!! My daughter starts soccer tomorrow and I have had nightmares about the junk she will be offered. Thank you for this post!

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Jennifer April 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thank you so much for this post- I am coach and team mom of my daughter’s soccer team, as well as a healthy eater. The snacks drove me nuts, but your letter got the message across in such a positive way. I sent it out to my team, blogged about it, and pointed people back to your site for even more ideas!
http://www.onehappymom.com/2013/04/a-healthier-soccer-season-through-snacktivism.html

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Anna Marie Finley July 30, 2013 at 8:54 am

Hi Sally! You’ve offered up some great tips for helping parents advocate for healthy snacks for their kids playing sports. Thought it would be great to share with you and your readers that the Healthy Kids Hub is a website that provides hundreds of resources – (much like your sample letter to parents) – to help out-of-school time programs develop the healthy habits of snacking smart and being more physically active. Check it out at http://www.healthykidshub.org!

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Sally July 30, 2013 at 10:13 am

Anna–awesome! I will definitely check that out. Thank you!

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Trinity September 30, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I just used your template to email our local town Athletic Director to ask that they replace “fruit” roll ups and “fruit” gummy snacks after practice with real fruit. Crossing my fingers! Thank you for the template!

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Sally September 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm

That’s terrific Trinity! Let me know how it goes. My fingers are crossed too!

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head soccer cheats January 22, 2014 at 11:49 pm

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JoAnn March 4, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Great timing! We have three boys in sports and I am going to encourage this at the first practice. I think another plus is that this will eliminate parents vying for the, “Best, Most Expensive, Sweetest, Fanciest Snack Ever” award. My boys do not need multiple snacks, nor do they need them in fancy bags with embellished nametags. Keep the cost down and keep it healthy!

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Sally March 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm

JoAnn–AMEN to that! Let me know how it goes. I hope your child’s coach is receptive–that can make all the difference. I also like the option of no snack at all–eliminates the need for parents to do anything but show up with their kids and a water bottle. :) Good luck!

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