Snack Smart: How four Scout leaders successfully banished junk food

healthy-kidsThis just in: Skittles aren’t fruit, and Funyuns aren’t vegetables.

As adult leaders, you can start the Scouting year off right by exposing Scouts to nutritious food at unit meetings. They’ll develop a healthy-snacking habit that’s bound to carry over into campouts and — maybe, just maybe — their home life.

Smart, healthy Scout snacks are the focus of the third of three principles of healthy living known as Drink Right, Move More and Snack Smart

(In earlier posts I shared why it’s important to replace bug juice with water and how to add more activity to your unit meetings.)

The Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart effort is the brainchild of Healthy Kids Out of School (with regional funding provided by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation), a Boy Scouts of America partner in the push for healthier Scouts.

Healthy Kids Out of School and the BSA are serious about healthier kids. Especially because they know American children don’t drink enough water, don’t get enough exercise and don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies.

That’s why Healthy Kids Out of School and the BSA offer the SCOUTStrong Healthy Unit patch to any Scout unit that makes a few easy, positive changes. More on the patch in a bit.

First, read about four Scouters who have made the switch to healthy Scout snacks.

Healthy Scout snacks

Seasonal fruit on the cheap

“Surprisingly the kids loved the healthy snacks,” says Raynham, Mass., Pack 11 Cubmaster Mike Vena. “They would often share what their favorite snack was from something that was offered or as a suggestion for the next time.”

Easy snacks included baby carrots, apples and clementines. Vena found that seasonal fruit was less expensive than processed junk food, meaning oftentimes the entire pack snack was less than $20.

Big bowls of fruit — and smoothies, too

Cubmaster William Brown of Fredonia, N.Y., Pack 267 made the switch to fruits and vegetables.

“Our Cubs dived into big bowls of apples and bananas at our January pinewood derby, and they cleared plates full of ripe strawberries and watermelon at our year-end June campout,” he says.

During den meetings, Pack 267 Cub Scouts design their own smoothies by blending low-fat yogurt with their choice of berries and other fruits.

Don’t forget the dip

Scouter Cathy Burks says Scouts will eat whatever’s available. If it’s fruit and veggies, they’ll eat that.

But “for veggies you gotta have dip!” she adds.

She also suggests checking out fun snack ideas on Pinterest.

Learning and eating well

Petersburgh, N.Y., Troop 2222 used Cooking merit badge as the catalyst for healthier food at meetings and campouts.

“Now, we are not perfect,” says Scoutmaster Andy Zlotnick. “We still have bug juice on occasion, but at meetings we have a cooler of water, and when we have snacks we look at a balance of the items we choose to eat. We have fruit trays or veggie trays or even just a bag of apples to have as a snack. For those who were the hardest converts, we added some dip or chocolate spread to dip the fruit in.”

Zlotnick, who has Type 2 diabetes, makes it personal. He tells Scouts about his condition “to help them avoid my pitfalls and poor food choices growing up.”

“We now have boys who are starting to alter their eating habits, choosing wheat bread or veggies over white bread or cupcakes,” he says. “And we see them choosing veggies for their pizzas!”

Oh yeah, and there’s a patch

healthy-kids-patchSmarter snacking yields more than just healthier Scouts. You can also get a patch.

The SCOUTStrong Healthy Unit Patch, which encourages units to follow the BSA’s SCOUTStrong recommendations to Drink Right, Move More and Snack Smart at meetings, events and excursions is available free to any unit that completes the patch requirements.

One of those requirements, “Serve a fruit or vegetable at three meetings,” ties in perfectly to today’s discussion.

Read all about the SCOUTStrong Healthy Unit Patch here.

What are your unit’s favorite healthy snacks?

Get ideas over at the Healthy Kids Hub. And share your own in the comments below.

Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart

This is Part 3 in the three-part series:

Drink Right: Why now’s the time to replace soda and bug juice with water

Move More: How (and why) to make your unit meetings more active

Snack Smart: How four Scout leaders successfully banished junk food (this post)

Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by danmachold

About Bryan Wendell 3286 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.