Salty or sweet? Nutritional quality, consumption, and cost of snacks served in afterschool programs

Michael W. Beets, Robert G. Weaver, Falon Tilley, Gabrielle Turner-Mcgrievy, Jennifer Huberty, Dianne S. Ward, Darcy A. Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Snacks served in afterschool programs (ASPs, 3-6pm) represent an important opportunity to promote healthy eating. ASP policies suggest a fruit/vegetable is served daily, while sugar-sweetened foods/beverages and artificially flavored snacks are eliminated. Limited information exists on the types of snacks served in ASPs, if snacks meet existing nutrition policies, whether children eat the snacks, and their cost. METHODS: Direct observation of snacks served and consumed was collected in 20 ASPs serving over 1700 elementary age children. The number of days that snacks were served/week was evaluated for compliance with nutrition policies. Costs of snacks were collected via receipts. RESULTS: Programs served desserts and artificially flavored salty snacks on 2.7 and 2.1days/week. Fruits and vegetables were served 0.6 and 0.1days/week, respectively. Sugar-sweetened beverages were served 1.8days/week. Of the children (N=383) observed, 75% to 100% consumed the snack served, with 95% and 100% of served fruits/vegetables consumed. No ASP served fruit/vegetables daily, 18 served sugar-sweetened foods, 16 served artificially flavored snacks, and 14 served sugar-sweetened beverages. Desserts and salty snacks cost $0.27-$0.32/snack vs $0.38-$0.40/snack for vegetables/fruits. CONCLUSIONS: The quality of snacks failed to meet nutrition policies and consists of predominately high-sugar and artificially flavored options. Strategies to improve snack offerings in ASPs while addressing price barriers are required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-124
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Community-based programs
  • Food
  • Nutrition
  • School

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Education
  • Philosophy


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