School Nutrition Programs

Competitive Foods

What are Competitive Foods?

Section 208 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act amended Section 10 of the Child Nutrition Act providing USDA with new authority to establish nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold outside of the Federal child nutrition programs in schools.

These foods are typically referred to as competitive foods, as they compete with the meal. This includes items sold through the student nutrition service line, vending machines, school stores, and fundraising events.

The law specifies that the nutrition standards shall apply to all foods sold (a) outside the school meal programs; (b) on the school campus; and (c) at any time during the school day.

Standards that must be met for a competitive food to be allowable include:

  • Be a whole grain rich product; OR
  • Have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein food (meat, beans, poultry, etc.); OR
  • Be a "combination food" with at least ¼ cup fruit and/or vegetable; OR
  • Contain 10% of the Daily Value of one nutrient of public health concern (only through June 30, 2016)
  • Calcium, potassium, vitamin D, dietary fiber

And follow additional nutrient standards:

  • Total Fat cannot exceed 35% of the total calories
  • Saturated Fat cannot exceed 10% of the total calories
  • Trans Fat must be less then ½ gram
  • Sodium may not exceed 480 milligrams for an entrée or 230/200 milligrams for a side dish (changing in two years)
  • Calories may not exceed 350 calories per entrée or 200 calories per side dish
  • and Total Sugar must be below 35% of the total weight

Organizations with the school who are selling these items must maintain documentation of the nutritional standards for review.

Resources

Resources available through collaboration between the School Nutrition Association and Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Competitive Foods Calculator

Ideas for Non-Food Related Rewards

Food Research and Action Center recorded webinar USDA’s Smart Snacks in the School Rule: What You Need to Know

Ideas for Healthy School Celebrations

Ideas for Healthy Fundraising

USDA Information

Policy Memo SP13-2014 School Food Service Account Revenue from the Sale of Non-Program Foods - pdf

USDA Presentation on Smart Snack Rule

USDA Infographic

USDA Standards

Q&As

Summary of Standards