To Treat or Not to Treat (Snacks in Sunday School)

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Kids—and some adults, expect children’s ministry leaders to offer some type of snack during their ministry time. What used to be an occasional treat or a tasty party extra is now practically a must-have in some children’s ministries. Of course most kids want snacks and treats—just ask them. But what about teachers? For many reasons, some teachers are bucking this “trend” in ministry and I can’t say that I entirely blame them. As a children’s ministry veteran, I can see both sides of this issue. Maybe some discussion on the subject will help us all decide what’s best for our churches and ministries. The question is: to treat or not to treat? I’ve collected some thoughts from various children’s leaders that I know.
Why Some Choose to Treat

  1. Kids are hungry. “We have a lot of ‘bus’ kids and I’m not sure some of these families feed kids before they send them to church. I feel compelled to provide them with something.” -Annette H.
  2. It fills in a time gap. “We always have time at the end of service  and I don’t mind.”
  3. I like doing food crafts. “I like getting creative with snacks because I teach young kids. They love it.” -Rachel K.
  4. All the other teachers feed their kids. “I give kids treats because the other classes do. I’m not a fan but one of my parents complained that one kid got something and the other one didn’t.” -Jeremy R.
  5. It’s our fellowship time. “I actually like snack time because it’s the only time we get to really slow down and be with the kids. It’s kind of our fellowship time.” -Vita R.

Why Some Don’t Like Giving Treats

  1. People forget this is an extra. “I gave up on treats because none of the parents wanted to help and my kids acted terrible during snack time. I really just stopped doing it.” Rick H.
  2. Food shouldn’t be a reward. “I have personal issues with food so it kind of influenced me, I guess. I like rewarding the kids with stickers or bible bucks, not food. We have food at parties but any other time.” Becka D.
  3. It’s too time-consuming and/or expensive to buy treats every week. “Kids weren’t happy with cookies and juice boxes. They wanted nachos and cheese and the list goes on. I couldn’t spend my budget on food.” Liz Y.
  4. I have kids who have good allergies. “I’m nervous about giving kids food. Some of mine have food allergies so we don’t do treats.” Anna K.
  5. It’s too messy. “I’m short handed on volunteers and the mess after a snack is too much to handle. I don’t have a cleaning crew–just me!” Missy O.

So what’s the bottom line? If I were in a quandary over treating or not treating, I’d be looking at this list. Every ministry is different but these leaders made some pretty good points. Most of the time during my work in churches, I did provide snacks. The reason being because we did do a lot of outreach ministry and new families often visited, many of these were poor. It can get to you at times, feeling unappreciated but it’s good to remember the words of Christ, “If  you have done this for the least of these, you have done it unto me.” If you do decide to quit serving treats, it might be a good idea to talk to other teachers. This kind of policy works best when everyone is on board. 


8 thoughts on “To Treat or Not to Treat (Snacks in Sunday School)”

  1. I usually give my Sunday school kids a snack after our lesson. I started when my daughter was young – 4 yr., so she wouldn’t need a snack during church. The snack is fruit and crackers (or a cereal bar) and water. I supply the snacks. My class is small, 6-10 children. And as mentioned in the article, it is our fellowship time????. It is also another opportunity to pray.

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  2. the teacher down the hall from does snacks every sunday. Homemade cupcakes, etc. her kids are older, and none have allergies. however my class is pre k, and they make messes, and I have one regular student, and one part time visitor, that have severe food allergies. my regular can’t even have kids that have flour products on their hands touch him. Snacks in my room are only occasionally when I do bring them, it is raisins, apples, oranges, or plain popcorn. water to drink. I feel like kids get enough unhealthy junk with out me adding to it. that way their parents can be in control of the amount of junk their kids get. I also feel like, as a church, we should not be feeding kids junk, sugary treats on a regular basis, we should set an example of how we should take care of the bodies God gave us, as we are suppose to.

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  3. We give snacks and use it as fellowship time. It gives also a time to have kids go to the bathroom so that there is minimum interruptions in the class. We started by bringing the snacks to the class but now we have tables set up in our function hall where we conduct children’s church. We have the kids sit by their grade level which makes it easier for teachers to dismiss them to the class room. We keep it simple apple juice or water for those that don’t like apple juice and cheese its; gold fish crackers or vanilla cookies. When parents sign in their kid, we ask them if their child has any allergies. We usually have youth or middle school kids help with the snacks. Sometimes we run short staffed and teachers will jump in during song worship and get snacks prepared.

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  4. I love giving the kids a snack! Sometimes they aren’t very interested in a snack and sometimes they are really excited about the snack! We always just have either crackers or fruit snacks and apple juice or water. What I love most about having a snack is the opportunity to teach the kids that they should pray and thank God before eating!! Some parents have told me their child won’t let them start eating at home before saying grace now.

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  5. We do provide snack. Our church is big on helping out others. We always have a lot of food coming in and I use what ever comes in. Apples, bananas, donuts. Sometimes the kids like what we have and sometimes they say they don’t like it. I tell them its okay you don’t have to eat if you don’t want to. We still have to be mindful of allergies and some parents don’t want their kids to have snacks. Its all good :).

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  6. Throughout the years the snack has been very distracting. In the middle of the lesson each week the children would raise their hands and ask what is for snack. Or when is snack. Eliminating it was the best thing we ever did. The younger class gets fish crackers and apple juice every week. That works too.

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  7. We did snacks for awhile and it just seemed to be to much and took away valuable time from the lesson. We have only an hour each week with our kids and sometimes this is the only time they ever learn anything from the Bible. What we did as an alternative was to have Popcorn Sundays twice a month and a Birthday Sunday once a month where we celebrated the months Birthdays. It has worked well for us and the children look forward to it. As a leader of our children’s ministry, you are constantly reinventing the wheel to what works best for the children you minister to.

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