Snack at School: A good Start By Amandine Auteserre, Nutritionist.

Chocolate bar slipped into the pocket, snack at the morning recess, taste after school, sometimes another at home … Watch out for good intentions and bad ideas.


The prevention of overweight and obesity of children is today a public health issue that challenges parents, teachers, and educators. In Alsace, for example, it was the subject of an academic circular to raise the awareness of the teaching staff about the effects of school snacks on the nutritional balance of children. In 2011, the Nutrition Committee of the Collective Catering and Nutrition Market Research Group (GEM-NCR) made recommendations on the subject of snacks and snacks.


The morning snack: not necessarily useful, except special circumstances


Eating at the morning break can be considered “nibbling”. The National Agency for Food Safety, Environment and Labor (ANSES, ex AFSSA) has even recommended its deletion, saying it is a factor in changing dietary rhythms and excess calories (opinion of 23 January 2004). In March 2004, a National Education circular reminded school directors that morning snacking should be “neither systematic nor mandatory”.

Some children, however, are hungry when they arrive at school. When they have breakfast very early (in rural areas for example, because of the school bus), we can then organise a snack before class by choosing preferably simple foods: a slice of bread, fruit in quarters (more comfortable to consume and avoid waste), the glass of milk (semi-skimmed). “But the morning snack should always be offered at least two hours before lunch so as not to interfere with the appetite of children when they sit down to eat. And we must not make a 5th meal, which would constitute an unjustified energy intake, says Marie-Line Huc, liberal dietician representative of the AFDN in the Nutrition Committee of GEM-NCR.

Afternoon tea after class: essential break while waiting for dinner

As part of extracurricular activities offered to schoolchildren, communities are led to organising the afternoon tea. The important meal, it avoids nibbling until dinner. Again, it is recommended that it be taken at least two hours before the evening meal. The GEM-NCR clarifies how to compose it and supports at least two elements among the following foods: fruits, dairy products, cereal products, plus a drink (water, fruit juice, milk). A bread sandwich with a bar of chocolate or a spoon of jam served with a glass of milk; it is also simply good. “The snack is light, its vocation is neither to compensate for the lack of lunch nor to replace the dinner,” said Marie-Line Huc.

According to Mélanie Le Morzédec, liberal dietitian member of the AFDN, coordinator of the project “Plaisir à la cantine” funded by the Alsace Regional Directorate for Food, Agriculture and Forestry (DRAAF) and the General Council of Haut -Rhin: “Respecting children’s nutritional balance requires an appreciation of each context on a case-by-case basis. For this, parents, teachers and educators must coordinate to ensure a coherence of the food that meets the real needs of children, different from those of adults.

Foods to prefer for snacks

– Raw fruits, compotes, dried fruit, fruit juice

– Milk, yoghurt, plain or flavoured cottage cheese

– Baguette bread, brown bread, country bread, cereal bread

– Chocolate in tablet, jam, honey