Six years ago, I had no idea there would be so much junk food involved when I signed up my son for soccer. I felt frustrated after a season of watching cupcakes, cookies, chips, and cherry punch dominate the sidelines after games. And confused. Why was a soccer game a reason to give kids donuts and Kool-Aid? Why were we associating sports with junk food? And was I the only one who was irritated by this, especially since our games took place on Saturday morning—right before lunch?
I approached our new coach in the next season, expressed my concern with the junk food I was seeing, and asked if we could do fruit and water for our team snacks. He enthusiastically agreed and said he was so glad someone finally spoke up about it.
Now I help parents around the country create a healthier team snack culture in their communities.
Though nixing the team snack completely does simplify things, some coaches enjoy a shared post-game snack. So in those cases, I advocate for fruit (or veggies) and water. They’re hydrating, easy, nutritious, and most kids don’t get nearly enough of them each day. Fresh fruit and veggies are usually safe for children with food allergies. Plus, kids can eat the snack and still have room for the lunch or dinner they’re going home to.
Here are 10 ideas:
- Orange slices: The classic! They’re super-hydrating and sweet to eat. Cut up a bunch, toss them in a container, and let the team have at it.
- Bananas: Couldn’t be simpler—or cheaper! You can feed the whole team for less than $5.
- Apples: Just rinse them off and bring them to the field.
- Fruit kebabs: These are always a hit with kids. Thread berries, bananas, melon, and grapes onto wooden skewers.
- Watermelon slices: It’s the perfect fruit for a hot afternoon of baseball or soccer.
- Mango “hedgehogs”: Sweet and fun and kids love the name.
- Cups of berries: Fill paper cups with rinsed berries. When I bring these to the field, many kids ask for seconds and thirds.
- Mini boxes of raisins: Unlike a lot of packaged dried fruit, raisins have no added sugar.
- Small bags of carrots: Look for these individual bags of baby carrots in the produce aisle. They’re a veggie that lots of kids tend to like.
- Clementines: Too busy to cut up oranges? Grab a bag or two of clementines. They’re sweet and portable and easy for little kids to peel themselves.