ECA Blog

Healthy Snacks for School Age Children

As a parent, nutrition is a major concern for me.  I’ll be honest; I am overweight and have struggled with it since I was in elementary school.  My doctor said that exercise is great, but nutrition has the most to do with a healthy lifestyle.  So far, my children are very healthy and active, and I would like them to stay that way.  To help me stay on track, I need to provide my family healthy nutritional options, which includes healthy snack options.  Now that kids are back in school, I thought this would be a good time to explore healthy snack options.  Some amazing colleagues of mine in our Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) compiled the following to share with you.

The CACFP is designed to address the nutritional needs of children in child care. Federally funded and state-administered, CACFP provides reimbursements for several types of child care settings that serve nutritional meals. As a sponsor of CACFP, Early Childhood Alliance serves providers of licensed child care homes and centers, registered ministries and certified legally licensed exempt child care homes throughout northern Indiana.  For more information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program, contact Lisa Bradley by email or 800-423-1498.

I found the following list and recipe resources very helpful.  I hope you do as well.

Have a Great Week!



Assorted fruit on white background

Assorted fruit on white background

Many children are very hungry at the end of the school day.  So before children begin their homework, make sure they have a healthy snack.  This will help their bodies re-charge and fuel their brains for homework.

Most children do not eat enough servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  After- school snack time is a great time to sneak in some fruits and veggies!


Snack Ideas

  • String cheese, whole-grain crackers, fresh fruit
  • Whole grain pitas with hummus or bean dip
  • Cheesy quesadilla with tomato slices
  • Whole grain English muffin pizza – add veggies
  • Chopped papaya sprinkled with lime juice and nuts
  • Nonfat Greek yogurt and berries
  • Whole grain mini muffins and grapes
  • Edamame & whole grain brown rice (add chopsticks for fun!)
  • A boiled egg and carrot sticks
  • Veggies with dip and milk
  • Oatmeal with blueberries
  • Zucchini muffins (recipe below) and milk
  • Granola (2 recipes below) and bananas
  • Fun Fall Snacks (see below)



Zucchini Muffins

Recipe Courtesy of Simple Recipes



  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir these dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture. Stir in walnuts, raisins or cranberries if using.
  2. Coat each muffin cup in your muffin pan with a little butter or vegetable oil spray. Use a spoon to distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups, filling the cups up completely. Bake on the middle rack until muffins are golden brown, and the top of the muffins bounce back when you press on them, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a long toothpick or a thin bamboo skewer to make sure the center of the muffins are done. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin let cool another 20 minutes.
  3. Note, if you are including walnuts and dried fruit, you will likely have more batter than is needed for 12 muffins. I had about 14 muffins from this batch, and that included filling the muffin cups up as far as possible (above the surface of the muffin tin).



Granola: Only 5 Ingredients!

Recipe Courtesy of Super Healthy Kids



  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (grapeseed, coconut or vegetable)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla


  • 1 cup wide cut coconut
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins or craisins
  • 1/2 cup dried mango
  • 1 cup chopped nuts


  1. Mix rolled oats and brown sugar together.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, honey and vanilla.
  3. Pour over dry mixture and stir to coat thoroughly. Add in chopped nuts and desired seeds at this point.
  4. Spread on a sprayed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  5. Stir frequently (every 5 minutes) to ensure even baking. It should be golden brown when it is done.
  6. Add dried fruit and coconut after it is finished baking.
  7. Let it cool on the baking sheet and then break up any large pieces. Store in an airtight container.
  8. Makes 8 cups. Can store for 3 weeks.



Homemade Granola

Recipe Courtesy of A Child Grows



  • ⅓ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup raw almonds*
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • ⅔-1 cup dried cherries, unsweetened*
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus a couple pinches for the nuts
  • ½ cup real maple syrup
  • ¼ cup organic apple juice, unsweetened *

*One piece of advice: chop the nuts and fruit fairly small if the little foodie in your house will be eating it, too.



  1. Roast the seeds and nuts. Heat the oven to 350°. On a large baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper, spread the sunflower seeds and the pumpkin seeds in an even layer leaving about ⅓ of the sheet empty. (You’ll use it for the nuts). Bake the seeds for 3 minutes and remove the baking sheet. Spread the nuts onto the last third of the baking sheet and bake for 7 more minutes. Set aside to cool. Chop them well after they have cooled. Lower the oven to 325°.
  2. Heat the liquids. In a small saucepan, heat the syrup, apple juice and cinnamon over medium heat. Let simmer for around 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally with a small whisk or fork.
  3. Prepare the oat mixture. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the oats, sea salt, chopped nuts and seeds and mix through. Pour the heated liquids over the mixture and stir so it is all combined.
  4. Cook the oat mixture. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or lined with parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spread the mixture out into an even layer and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the fruit. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and stir in the fruit. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Cool and enjoy.



Fun Fall Snacks

Fall festivities mean fall treats and snacks.  Think outside the box to ensure children are still receiving healthy snacks and not cakes and cookies.  Banana ghosts made with chocolate chips and orange pumpkins with celery stems are a fun way to ensure that children receive healthy fall snacks!

Beyond The School Day

We know that quality early childhood care and education positively affects child growth, development and school readiness.Did you know that high quality learning experiences are also important for school agers, both in school and beyond the school day?

Research shows that children and youth participating in after school programs experience positive outcomes in all areas of development and have a decrease in high-risk behaviors. However, programs must be high quality in order for children and youth to benefit (Indiana Afterschool Alliance). Indiana is responding to this need for quality school age care since most child care providers serve school age children.

  • Approximately  80.6% of the providers in ECA’s database serve school agers
  • Approximately  76.4% of all Indiana providers serve school agers

(Data provided by NACCRRA Data Services)

Within the last couple of years, School Age (SA) Specialists were hired by three agencies contracted by Indiana Association of Child Care Resource and Referral (IACCRR) with the goal of increasing the quality of school age child care programs. The SA Specialists are currently working with IACCRR and other leading state and national youthprofessionals to collect, develop and share resources and trainings with the child care providers and stakeholders in their service areas.

Are you a child care provider working with school agers?  Do you need help with creating a program to engage your school age kids?  If the answer is yes, then schedule an onsite technical assistance visit with our School-Age Specialist. Together, you will customize a diverse and dynamic program that’ll keep your school-agers engaged and wanting more.



Karin Gilbert is ECA’s School-Age Specialist, serving Allen, DeKalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, St. Joseph, Steuben, and Whitley Counties.  Karin has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University-South Bend and an Indiana Youth Development Credential.  She has 16 years of experience in school-age youth work.  Karin provides support for providers of SA programs to increase the quality of SA care.

You can contact Karin at 574-360-3070 or

Looking for Child Care?

All parents want to make the best decision, the best choice for their children. And choosing child care is important because it can have a significant, long-lasting impact in a child’s life.

Here are some tools to help with your child care search, such as important questions to ask and things to watch for when interviewing a potential provider to be sure health and safety standards are met. We hope that these resources help you in your search for selecting quality child care.

Have a Great Week!




To help find the best child care for your child – Look for Quality Indicators!


The following information will help parents decide on their own what level of quality a child care program is providing for your child.


Adult to Child Ratio

  • Infants – 1 staff to 4 infants
  • Toddlers/2 years – 1 staff to 5 toddlers
  • 3-4 years – 1 staff to 10 children


Group Size

  • Are your child’s needs being met?


Caregivers’ Qualifications

  • Does staff have the credentials/experience for working with children?
  • Does staff receive annual training?
  • Does the program participate in Paths to QUALITY™?


Learning Environment

  • Does the staff have age appropriate activities for the age range served?
  • How is the staff preparing the children for school?
  • Does the staff encourage parent involvement?


Safe and Healthy Environment

  • Is there always someone present with current CPR and first aid training?
  • Is the environment clean and safe?
  • Does the staff provide a safe sleep environment for infants?


For a complete list of additional quality indicators, review the publication from Child Care Aware – Is This The Right Place For My Child? 

Paths To QUALITY is an amazing tool to help you quickly assess Child Care Providers. Find Out More! 


Additional Resources to Select a Quality Child Care Program:

  • Give Your Child Something That Will Last a Lifetime – Is child care something you need? Then this brochure can help, especially if you’re looking for the one thing that matters most in child care – QUALITY. This brochure provides parents with five helpful steps to choosing quality child care. It also includes a checklist to use when choosing a child care home or center.
  • Selecting a High-Quality School-Aged Program for Your Child – Concerned about after school care for your child? This brochure will help you in selecting a quality after-school program. It includes questions to ask yourself along the way as well as a checklist to refer to when looking at a specific program.