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An elementary aged boy eats a snack in his children's ministry.
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7 Tips for Handling Snacks in Your Children’s Ministry

With these 7 tips for snacks in ministry, you’ll welcome kids — and their tummies! Plus you’ll teach them great lessons!

To snack, or not to snack, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to serve up The sugar and sweets of outrageous fillers, Or to take arms against a sea of marshmallow crème, And by opposing end them: to diet, to sleep (perchance throughout my lesson) … Aye, there’s the rub.

Snacks are becoming a large hurdle in today’s ministry world. What are we supposed to do when it comes to snacks? Here are seven things to consider when thinking about sweet snacks and tasty treats in your ministry.

7 Tips for Handling Snacks in Your Children’s Ministry

1. Don’t ban.

We have heard of more than a few ministries that have banned snacks and treats. If an activity involving food ever shows up in the lesson, they work around it. We can see the good intention here (see our next point), but serving snacks is a great way to show radical hospitality.

2. Be allergy alert!

One way NOT to show radical hospitality is serving kids snacks that will hurt them. Food allergies impact 1 in every 10 to 13 kids in America. Yes, it’s easy just to ban snacks altogether…but what might it demonstrate to a family that your ministry takes the time to serve kids with allergies something they can enjoy. Better yet, give everyone the same allergen-free snack to help kids with allergies not feel different.

3. Communicate clearly.

When serving snacks, even when you think you know everyone’s allergies, post what you’ll be serving. In Group’s Kids’ Travel Guide to the Beatitudes, there’s a printable allergy alert sign that ministry leaders can copy and post at their doors so parents know what to expect before going inside.

4. Provide food for thought.

Give your snacks meaning. Find ways to incorporate snack time into your lessons. Don’t just hand a kid a cookie and milk and call it done; have them pretend the cookie is Naaman as he dips into the Jordan River. Need more inspiration? Here are three Bible-based snacks kids will eat up!

5. Consider the issue of rewards.

Besides snacks, another hot button issue in children’s ministry is the use of a reward system. We’ve covered the issue multiple times from different angles (Ban the Rewards, What’s Wrong With Rewards, Token Ministry, Why Bribes Hurt Kids’ Spiritual Growth). The discussion always seems to bring in some great comments on both sides of the issue. Check out the discussions and decide for yourself if snacky rewards are a good fit for your ministry.

6. Make it healthier.

Working in the children’s ministry resources field, we often create and try out snacks. We happen to have some great cooks and foodies on our team and they have been providing some great, healthy alternatives to the sugary snacks of children’s ministry past. And, crazy enough, they taste just as good, or even better! Next snack time, see what simple substitutions you can make to give kids a healthy snack…your parents will thank you!

7. Have food be for kids, by kids.

Give kids the opportunity to serve their peers by letting them help out making and handing out the snacks. It’s a great way to build up their confidence and help them understand that they can make a difference in the ministry. It really gives kids ownership and helps them realize that this is their ministry.

Looking for more snack ideas? Check out these posts!

2 thoughts on “7 Tips for Handling Snacks in Your Children’s Ministry

  1. In my ministry, I will provide a snack occasionally and only when it applies to the lesson somehow. We made marshmallow/pretzel stick barbells when talking about how trusting God made us strong. The ever popular goldfish crackers when we were talking about being fishers of men… etc. I have found that if it's not an every week thing, the kids seem to take more away from that teachable moment and it's a little more special. And when it comes to the food allergies, I have a little guy that has a nut allergy and when I get cookies or really anything – it's a must to read those lables. I have found that most generic store brand cookies will have more nut allergens in them the brand name. It hides everywhere!

  2. in the youth department of our church we reward the children in the nursery with snacks or toy alt. with either one. During fourth sunday of each month we have bible study for adults,teens and toddler, after bible study we feed them lunch such as tacos,sloppy joe , or spaghetti during this time it allows the teen as well as the toddler to fellowship together

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