USDA’s “All Foods Sold in Schools” Standards

USDA recently published new standards for snack foods and beverages sold to children outside the school meal program, on the school campus and at any time during the school day. The new standards, required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, will require schools to offer healthier snack foods to children at school.

The changes to the lunch and breakfast program over the last year have increased the number of fruits, vegetables and whole grains offered to students. The Smart Snacks in School standards will build on these changes and ensure that kids are only offered tasty and nutritious food during the school day.

All foods sold in school must:

Be a whole grain-rich product; or

  • Have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein food; or
  • Be a combination food that contains at least 1/4 cup 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:

  • Calorie limits:
    • Snack items: < 200 calories
    • Entrée items: < 350 calories
  • Sodium limits:
    • Snack items: < 230 mg
    • Entrée items: < 480 mg
  • Fat limits:
    • Total fat: < 35% of calories
    • Saturated fat: < 10% of calories
    • Trans fat: zero grams
  • Sugar limit:
    • < 35% of weight from total sugar in foods

Nutrition Standards for Beverages: All schools may sell:

  • Plain water (with or without carbonation)
  • Unflavored low fat milk
  • Unflavored or flavored fat free milk and milk alternative permitted by NSLP/SBP
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice

Elementary schools may sell up to 8 ounce portions, while middle schools and high schools may sell up to 12 ounce portions of milk and juice. There is no portion size limit on plain water.

Additional beverage options for High School students:

  • No more than 20 ounce portions of:
    • Calorie free, flavored water (with or without carbonation)
    • Other flavored and/or carbonated beverages that are labeled to contain < 5 calories for 8 fluid ounce or < 10 calories per 20 fluid ounces
  • No more than 12 ounce portions of
    • Beverages with < 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces, or < 60 calories per 12 fluid ounces.


  • Accompaniments such as cream cheese, salad dressing, ketchup and butter must be included in the nutrient profile as part of the food item sold.
  • This will help control the amount of calories, fat, sugar and sodium added to foods by accompaniments, which can be significant.


  • The sale of food items that meet nutrition requirements at fundraisers are not limited under the standards.
  • 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. State agencies may determine the frequency with which these fundraising activities can take place. No specially exempted fundraiser food or beverage may be sold in competition with school meals in the food service area during the meal service.

When will the new standards go into effect? The new standards will be effective July 1, 2014.

Public Comment
USDA is seeking comments on these standards. The comment period is open through October 28, 2013. Feedback from students, parents, school foodservice staff, school administrators, State agencies and other interested parties is critical to ensuring successful standards. To find the standards online, go to and search by docket number FNS-2011-0019 or you may type in the name of the rule “Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School”.

The Wellness & Nutrition Team at Opaa! will continue to review the details of the newly proposed regulations and provide feedback through the public comment process.