Nutrition Standards for Foods
Any food sold in school must:
- Be a “whole grain-rich” grain product; or
- Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product or a protein food; or
- Be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or
- Contain 10% of the Daily Value (DV) of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber)
Foods must also meet several nutrient requirements:
- Snack items - Elementary Schools: ≤ 175 calories
- Snack items - Middle & High Schools: ≤ 200 calories
- Entrée items: ≤ 350 calories
- Snack items: ≤ 200 mg
- Entrée items: ≤ 480 mg
- Total fat: ≤ 35% of calories
- Saturated fat: ≤ 10% of calories
- Trans fat: zero grams
Sugar limit ≤ 35% of weight from total sugars in foods
Accompaniments such as cream cheese, salad dressing and butter must be included in the nutrient profile as part of the food item sold. This helps control the amount of calories, fat, sugar and sodium added to foods.
Nutrient Standards for Beverages
Schools may sell:
- Plain water (with or without carbonation)
- Unflavored low fat milk
- Unflavored or flavored fat free milk and milk alternatives permitted by NSLP/SBP
- 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and 100% fruit or vegetable juice diluted with water (with or without carbonation) and no added sweeteners
Elementary schools may sell up to 8-ounce portions, while middle and high schools may sell up to 12-ounce portions of milk and juice. There is no portion size limit for plain water.
Beyond this, the standards allow additional “no calorie” and “lower calorie” beverage options for high school students.
- No more than 20-ounce portions of calorie-free, flavored water (with or without carbonation); and other flavored and/or carbonated beverages that are labeled to contain < 5 calories per 8 fluid ounces or ≤ 10 calories per 20 fluid ounces.
- No more than 12-ounce portions of beverage with ≤ 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces, or ≤ 60 calories per 12 fluid ounces. Healthy Fundraisers
- Food items that meet nutrition standards are not limited
- The standards do not apply during non-school hours, on weekends and at off-campus fundraising events
- The standards provide a special exemption for infrequent fundraisers that do not meet the nutrition standards. Each State agency is responsible for establishing the number of exempt fundraisers that may be held in schools each year.
Kids in the Kitchen
There are plenty of fun ways to liven up snack time using healthy fruits, vegetables and cheeses. Kids will love creating and eating fun-to-make snacks with you in the kitchen! Click on the image to the right to watch a video to learn about some fun and healthy snack ideas that you can make with your kids in the kitchen.
Snacking Tips for Parents
- Plan ahead and buy healthy snacks when you shop. You will save money and make healthier choices than if you or your kids are buying snacks on the go.
- Provide kids with choices and make those choices nutritious.
- Pre-portion you child's snacks into small plastic bags to grab on the go.
- Combine snacks from at least two food groups to pack more nutrients into your child's diet... it will be more filling and it will hold them over to the next meal.
- And remember... space snacks far enough between meals so appetites are not spoiled!
Two Simple Steps to Delicious and Nutritious Snacks
Katie-Jeffery-Lunn, MS, RD, CDN, LDN
Healthy, Fun Snacks and Desserts for the Whole Family
Reyna Franco, MS, RD, CDN
Healthy, Tasty and Creative Snacks for Kids
Katie-Jeffery-Lunn, MS, RD, CDN, LDN