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Snacks & Meal Standards for After School Programs

This fact sheet identifies the federal reimbursable snack requirements as well as the state nutrition standards for snacks and meals offered in after school programs.


California Department of Education (CDE) Administered After School Programs. As of January 1, 2014, after school programs have the option to serve a snack, a meal, or both. All snacks provided to students in the CDE’s After School Education and Safety (ASES) programs or the federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programs must meet, at a minimum, the California nutrition standards identified below. If snacks are provided through one of the federally reimbursable meal programs, the food must meet both the federal requirements and the California nutrition standards. Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) reviewers will evaluate the after school program for compliance with the nutrition standards.

Assembly Bill (AB) 626 added a meal to the acceptable food options that must be offered to students in the CDE administered after school programs. Meals served in after school programs (ASPs) through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) must meet the CACFP nutrition requirements to receive the federal reimbursement for the meals. For flexibility, the CACFP allows School Food Authorities to use either the CACFP or the National School Lunch Program meal pattern. AB 626 clarifies that after school meals are not required to comply with the California nutrition standards identified below. For more information on AB 626, visit Management Bulletin AB626: Afterschool Meals.

Non-CDE Administered After School Programs. If the after school program (ASP) is not funded through the ASES and/or 21st CCLC grants, compliance with the nutrition standards below are not required. However, we strongly encourage ASPs to serve food that meets the nutrition standards. If ASP snacks or meals are provided through a federally reimbursable meal program, the food must meet the federal requirements for that specific program.

California Education Code Requirements

(Education Code sections 49430-49431.7, 8423(c)3, 8482-8484.6)


  1. Snacks provided in ASES and 21st Century funded ASPs must meet all of the following standards. Each individual food item may not:
    • Be deep fried, par fried, or flash fried by the entity preparing the food item
    • Be deep fried, par fried, flash fried as part of the manufacturing process unless an “acceptable” oil is used such as canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, olive, soybean, peanut, or a blend of these oils, typically liquid at room temperature and are known for their positive cardiovascular benefit
    • Contain artificial trans fat
    • Contain more than 35 percent of its total calories from fat
    • Contain more than 10 percent of its total calories from saturated fat
    • Contain more than 35 percent of its total weight from sugar, including naturally occurring and added sugar
    • Contain more than 175 calories per individual food item (for elementary students)
    • Contain more than 250 calories per individual food item (for middle, junior high or high school students)
  2. The above standards do not apply to individually packaged portions of nuts, nut butters, seeds, eggs, individually packaged cheese, fruit, vegetables that have not been deep fried, and legumes.
  3. Whole grain products are highly recommended.


Only the following beverages may be served to students:


“Added Sweetener” - Any additive other than 100 percent fruit juice that enhances the sweetness of a beverage

“Deep fried” - A food item is cooked by total submersion in oil or fat

“Par fried” - A food item is fried to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit then is cooled to room temperature so that it may be refrigerated or frozen for future frying

“Flash fried” - A food item is quickly fried on both sides in oil with a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

“Artificial Trans Fat” - A food contains artificial trans fat if the food contains vegetable shortening, margarine, or any kind of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, unless…documentation…lists the trans fat content as less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving

Federal Reimbursable Snack Requirements

Federal Food and Nutrition Programs provide funding for snacks and meals served to ASP participants. ASPs may be able to receive reimbursement from one of three different food and nutrition programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These include the National School Lunch Program Afterschool Snacks, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, or the Summer Food Service Program. ASPs may be able to receive reimbursement for a meal served under the at-risk after school meals component of the Child and Adult Care Food Program. For a comparison chart of the different elements of the programs visit After School Snack Facts.

We strongly encourage eligible ASPs to participate in at-risk after school meals in order to provide a larger quantity and potentially higher quality of food that better meets the nutritional needs of the students. If this is not possible, we encourage ASPs to use program funds saved through participation in a USDA reimbursable snack program to augment the snack with healthy items, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Remember, ASPs can count the federal reimbursement dollars of the snack and meal programs as part of their required ASES match.

A reimbursable snack must contain full servings of any two of the following four food components:

For snacks, these components may be served in any combination, except that juice may not be served when milk is the only other component. Portion sizes for various age groups can be found on page 15 in the USDA Food Buying Guide, Introduction External link opens in new window or tab.. Sample snack menus are available in the California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness Program's (CANFIT) Healthy Snack Guide for Your After School Program External link opens in new window or tab..

A reimbursable meal must contain full servings of all of the following four food components:

For more details about the at-risk after school meal requirements, consult the USDA At-Risk Afterschool Meals Handbook External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). Step-by-step instructions to ensure that the meal complies with the California snack nutrition standards are available at the California AfterSchool Network External link opens in new window or tab..

Visit the California After School Resource Center (CASRC) External link opens in new window or tab. Web site for more resources on healthy snacks, nutrition education, physical activity, and related workshop opportunities.


For more information about at-risk after school meals or the California Education Code requirements for snacks, contact Deborah Tamannaie, Nutrition Services Division, at 916-323-2473 or by e-mail at

For more information about federal reimbursable snack or meal requirements, contact your local Child Nutrition Consultant or call the Nutrition Services Division at 800-952-5609.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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