As a youth sports coach, I’ve seen almost every snack imaginable, from fruit to chips. I always cringe when I see the unhealthy snacks, but I’ve also watched kids pass up fruit that they didn’t think was fun. Finding a balance is key to getting parents to bring snacks that are good for the kids and appealing to them.
Set a Schedule
The first step to managing snacks for your youth sports team is to make a snack schedule. Assign each player a particular game. If you don’t want to coordinate the schedule, simply make a signup sheet for the parents. The one disadvantage to the sheet is that some parents might not volunteer. I ran into that problem my first season coaching and ended up providing a lot of the snacks myself. You can also ask one of the parents to put together the schedule for you.
Watch for Allergies
Ask all of the parents about allergies before you ask the team to bring snacks. Peanut allergies are the most common and potentially dangerous. It’s a good general rule to ask for peanut-free snacks even if you don’t have a child with that specific allergy. If you do have a child who is allergic to something, let the team know about the dietary restriction ahead of time. If it is a severe allergy, the family is probably used to screening snacks and might bring separate snacks for the child anyway.
I like to send out some suggestions along with the snack schedule. Of course the parents will bring what they want, but having some healthy choices to choose from can be a good inspiration for them. Here are some ideas you can share:
- Applesauce without added sugar
- Fresh fruit
- Trail mix
- Cheese and crackers
- Whole wheat bagels
- Individual cups of hummus with crackers or veggies
- Low-sugar yogurt
One of my favorite snacks is to freeze yogurt tubes. I buy Greek yogurt in a plastic tube. The Greek yogurt version is healthier than the sugar-filled kids yogurt in a tube. I keep the tubes in a small cooler until after the game. On a hot game day, it’s a quick and healthy way to cool off.
If you consistently see junk food from the parents for sports snacks, consider creating a healthy snack policy. Explain why healthy snacks are important for the young athletes after a game. Request that parents send foods with nutritional value and without a lot of fat or sugar. Include a list of recommended snacks.
Having a post-game snack is often a highlight for youth athletes. With a little planning and guidance for the parents, your players can enjoy a nutritious snack to refuel after a hard game.