Brain Boosting Snacks for Students

September 27, 2022
Kelly C. Bawden, MS, CCC-SLP
feature image

You might have heard that 1 in 8 children in America were living with hunger in 2021. But did you know that providing brain-boosting snacks for students can have a big impact on their behavior and academic achievement? No Kid Hungry reports research has shown a full stomach has a positive impact on students’ emotional health and academics, and a 21,000-child study found that food insecurity is strongly linked to many adverse developmental outcomes for children. Having healthy, nutrient-dense snacks on hand in our classrooms and offices is a great way to make sure students' bellies are full. In fact, there is research to suggest that classroom snacks can have a positive impact on math scores as well as the intention to enroll in higher education. Read on for some suggestions to get your brain-boosting snack center off to a fantastic start, and download a free pdf with the same information below! 


Like many adults, kids often do not get enough water throughout the day. Sips of water from the drinking fountain are often not enough, and even mild dehydration can be a major cause of fatigue. Too little water means insufficient blood flowing around the body to bring essential oxygen and energy to the brain. Make sure kids have full water bottles all day long!

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are high in iron, protein, and magnesium. A small handful makes a great snack and has a mood-boosting effect! Have them available in individual packs, look for them as an ingredient in individual packs of trail mix, or even in whole-grain snack bars. 

Dried Fruits and Vegetables

Almost any fruit or vegetable can make a healthy snack, and when they're dried, they provide an easy, shelf-stable option you can always have on hand. Apples and plums contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can protect against cognitive decline. Dried berries are linked to increased cognitive function in kids. Dried tomatoes can help to improve mental health, while dried kale chips can boost cognitive function in kids. No matter what you choose, dried fruits and veggies are colorful, and the burst of flavor can make almost anyone smile!

Turkey or Chicken Jerky

Small, individual packages of jerky pack a huge nutritional punch in a tiny package. Jerky is high in protein, and amino acids found in poultry help the brain produce dopamine, the brain chemical that helps with for motivation and mental acuity.

Dairy and cheese

Dairy foods are packed with protein and B-vitamins — essential for the growth of brain tissue, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. Dairy is also full of vitamin D, and recent research suggests that children and teens need 10 times more than the recommended adult dose to fuel their rapidly changing neuromuscular system. A tiny fridge with low-sugar, full-fat yogurts or string cheese is a great option for any classroom snack center.


Packed with folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and iodine, it's no wonder that seaweed is all the craze right now. In addition to aiding in digestion, seaweed's antioxidants may improve both verbal and memory skills

Whole Grains

There are lots of options for whole-grain snacking! They should be part of your snack stop because they have staying power and will help kids stay fuller, longer. Have fun exploring options like quinoa chips, low-sugar grain bars, popcorn, and the dizzying array of whole grain crackers that are available. Whole grain chips and crackers can also be paired with individually packaged cheese, hummus, or nut butter for a true super snack.

Click on the image below to download your free brain-boosting snacks pdf and check out our other downloadables, too!

[formlightbox_call title="gravity form" class="52"]


text of blog post in stylized, downloadable format


[formlightbox_obj id="52" style="padding: 10px;"][gravityform id="52" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"][/formlightbox_obj]