I have to admit, trying to ensure that a snack is healthy can be quite a daunting task! I’ve read article after article on how to read nutritional labels and sometimes I’m still overwhelmed. Did you know that there are over 50 names for sugar alone? We decided to give you the “skinny” on how to read the label to determine whether a snack is healthy or not and to provide an awesome calculator which helps you determine whether your snack, entrée, or beverage passes the health parameters set forth by the USDA. This calculator is particularly helpful for stocking vending machines in schools as you must adhere to guidelines set forth by the USDA to avoid hefty fines or your machine being removed from the school. The magic number (or important number) is 200! You want to make sure that your snack is less than 200 calories with less than 200 mg of sodium. The other major factor of a healthy snack is to make sure that you have less than 10% Saturated Fats! When you’ve made those determinations, in most cases, you’ve made a healthy choice. In the instance that you have questions, click on the calculator to see how easy it is to determine whether your snacks are healthy or not! The calculator is an amazing tool that helps you to verify how healthy the items are that you’re stocking in your vending machine. This table breaks down the essential components of a healthy snack:
|1||Grains||Grains must contain 50% or more whole grains by weight or have whole grains as the first ingredient on a snack. If an item is a non-grain, the first ingredient must be a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein. If water is the first ingredient, the second item must be a grain, fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein.|
|2||Fats||Fats must be less than 35% of the total calories. Less than 10% of calories must come from Saturated Fats. The only acceptable amount of Trans Fats is less than .5g per portion.|
|3||Sodium||Sodium amounts should be less than 200 mg per item sold.|
|4||Calories||Snacks should be less than 200 calories per item sold.|
|5||Caffeine||Drinks should avoid caffeine, unless it is a trace amount of naturally occurring caffeine.|
Hopefully the calculator and the table help you to successfully stock your vending machine with items are that are compliant with health guidelines set forth by the USDA. Happy Vending!