Starting July 1, 2013, all foods sold in schools during the school day will need to meet specific nutrition standards. The changes are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which has already shifted school lunches and breakfasts in a healthier direction that better aligns with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Though what’s out now is called an “interim final rule,” meaning details could change, regulators and school districts need to proceed unless noted otherwise.

What this Means for School Districts:

Lists of which foods can and cannot be sold in schools during the school day are below. These changes will not affect foods brought from home (birthday parties), foods bought outside of the school campus, teachers’ lounges, foods sold to be eaten later (cookie dough, pizza kits, canned popcorn) or foods sold at least 30 minutes after the school day ends.

Starting July 1, 2014 (next school year), any food sold in schools must be one of these:

  • A “whole grain-rich” grain food
  • Have a first ingredient as a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein food
  • Be a food with at least ¼ cup fruit and/or vegetable
  • Have at least 10% of the Daily Value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D or fiber (these were “nutrients of concern” in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans)

Acceptable Foods Include:

  • Approved breakfasts, lunches, snacks and suppers through USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs (school lunch, school breakfast, after-school snack or supper)
  • Snacks that meet the new Smarter Snacks criteria. Foods can include (depending on exact specs):
    • Most types of fruits
    • Most types of vegetables
    • Light popcorn (snack bag)
    • Granola bars
    • Many low-fat or fat-free dairy foods (e.g., string cheese, low-fat yogurt)
    • Flavored or unflavored water
    • Fat-free milk (flavored or unflavored) or low-fat white milk or milk substitutes
    • Sugar-free chewing gum
    • Diet soda

What Foods Schools Can’t Sell: 

  • Foods that don’t meet the criteria during the school day on the school campus. Some of these foods include:
    • Donuts
    • Many types of baked goods or desserts
    • Fruit flavored candies
    • Regular soda
    • Chocolate bars
    • Sandwich cookies

How Food Fundraisers Will Be Affected:

The face of fundraisers during school that involve food may change quite drastically for many school districts. USDA has coined the changes Smart Snacks in School; these will impact all foods sold in K-12 schools during the school day. Click here for a summary of the rule.

Weekly school day sales of ice cream, root beer floats, baked goods or candy will likely be required to morph into sales of other options, including more nutritious foods or non-food fundraisers such as competitions, magazines, volunteer work, household products, etc. Fundraisers may also shift to those held during after school hours.

The rule allows individual States to determine the number of “infrequent” food fundraisers it will allow that sell foods which do not meet the nutrition standards. Many states have yet to finalize their stance on this decision.

What Foods Schools Can Sell & Other Okay Fundraisers:

  • Foods that meet the Smarter Snacks criteria
  • Non-food items
  • States are given jurisdiction to determine whether or not they want to allow a certain number food fundraisers per district that are exempt from the Smart Snacks criteria
  • Fundraisers that sell foods not to be eaten at school (e.g., cookie dough, pizza kits)
  • Fundraisers or sales of food outside of the school day (e.g., sports concessions, events more than half an hour after school is over)

Do you have any food fundraisers at your kids’ schools you’d like to see stay or go? Do you have any gut reactions to these rules? Are you glad to see the types of foods sold in schools will have health-promoting guidelines? Please feel free to share!

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