Group. I have been helping run the snack station at one of them for almost four years. Since we have moved towards totally using groups program I have noticed that the snacks have become sugar filled, un-healthy snacks. These are items we would consider special treats in our house and only serve occasionally and they were being fed to my kids on a daily basis, some days as early as 9:30 in the morning. After tweeting our pictures of our snacks I had some requests for how we turned VBS snack from a sugar fest until a healthy treat, so I am sharing it with you today.
If you have never participated in a Group VBS one thing you need to be made aware of is that snack is supposed to be fun, and enforce the story they are learning that day. With all the snacks we managed to substitute healthy items that still allowed us to make snack fun and work with the story.
Original Plan- Sky Surprises: This was to be snack for Day 1: Popcorn and five (5) different kinds of individually wrapped candies. The Candy is supposed to be hidden at the bottom of the cup of popcorn. The candy is supposed to be a surprise at and the different candy is used to show the kids how everyone is different.
Aside from giving kids candy for a snack (I have made my opinion on that issue very clear in my snack-voltion post.) I was concerned about giving hard candy to young children (3-5 years old). We still rarely let our 7 year old have hard candy since he never stops talking or sits still when he is eating.
Healthy Ingredient Swap: We kept the popcorn because it's not an awful snack and is fun for the kids. Instead of the candy we used all natural fruit snacks. We just dumped out packages into a big bowl and the kids scooped them in before the popcorn. It still provided the "difference" in different colors and flavors but was a much healthier alternative.
Original Plan - Troubled Hearts: Blue jiggler hearts, to show the kids what a "troubled heart" looks like. With a dollop of whip cream to be the cloud, and a half of strawberry to look like a heart.
Healthy Ingredient Swap: We didn't change this one, except to use red jello instead of blue (which I think was a shopping thing and nothing more). Aside from the whip cream it wasn't a terrible treat and I just could not come up with something to replace the jello.
Original Plan - High Flyin' Floats: Root-beer floats. It was suggested that each group get a package of individual vanilla ice cream cups and a can of root-beer each. The snack is supposed to represent how God lifts us up, like the root-beer lifts up the ice cream.
Healthy Ingredient Swap: I'll admit I may have lost it when I read this in the book during planing. My kids never drink soda, and I would never give it to a child under 5 that was in my care. Not to mention the shear cost of buying individual servings of ice cream and root-beer for almost 100 children. Our group used blueberries and sparkling water. The question I received the most was "Did the kids drink it?" Yes. Almost all of them tried it. We had flavored LaCroix, so some flavors (orange) went over better than others (lime). The kids that didn't like the water at the blueberries off the top and were fine with that.
Original Plan - Inseparable Swirls: The original ingredient list was for whipped cream cheese, marshmallow cream (marshmallow fluff), squeeze bottle chocolate syrup and strawberries or other seasonal fruit. We were supposed to make a dip for the fruit with the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff and then swirl the chocolate on top. This was to symbolize how just like you can't remove the chocolate swirl we are inseparable from God.
Healthy Ingredient Swap: That thud you heard was my head hitting the desk. I thought it couldn't get worse then root-beer floats and than it did. I mean marshmallow fluff? Again, I expressed my feeling on marshmallows being used as an "allergy free" snack here. The one VBS that followed group's snack suggestions (pictured here) opted for plain cool-whip as the dip. Our healthy alternative was a actually a huge hit with the kids in our group. They were given vanilla yogurt and than could choose strawberry jelly/fruit preserves and/or honey as their swirl. We had strawberries and apple slices for them to use in dipping. It was not only a healthier alternative it saved both time and money in the kitchen and was more familiar flavors to the kids so more was eaten and less was thrown out (reducing waste).
Original Plan - Barbell Bites: Pretzel sticks, cheese cubes and grapes are used to create barbells to symbolize our strength through God.
Healthy Ingredient Swap: None! It took 5 days to have a healthy snack. Can I also say that the group I did that had all the original snacks? When we got to this last day the kids could not get enough of the cheese and grapes and kept asking for more. You don't have to serve junk food to get kids to eat, have fun or be excited.
I do understand that VBS is supposed to be fun but our kids still had fun without being filled with sugar and junk food. VBS is also outreach for many of the churches and I feel that we should be putting our best face forward and teaching the visitors that we take care of the bodies God entrusted us with. I also feel that when the news is filled every week with stories of childhood obesity and schools dropping soda and junk food in an effort to curb it the church looks behind the times and out of touch when they are serving ice cream, soda and candy.
Did you do VBS this summer? Did you use the Group snacks or did you swap for healthy suggestions?