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Snacks & Meal Standards for After School Programs

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

Summary

California Department of Education (CDE) Administered After School Programs. 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. Furthermore, programs must seek to qualify for a federally funded after school snack or meal program. If snacks are provided through one of the federally reimbursable meal programs, known as child nutrition 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 California nutrition standards.

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. After school meals are not required to comply with the California nutrition standards identified below.

Non-CDE Administered After School Programs. If the after school program 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.

Summary Tables
CDE Administered After School Programs California State Snack Standards Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Federal Standards
SNACKS provided by ASES or 21st CCLC funds Yes No
SNACKS provided through CNP funds Yes Yes
MEALS provided through CNP, ASES or 21st CCLC funds No Yes

 

Non-CDE Administered After School Programs California State Snack Standards Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Federal Standards
Snacks or meals NOT funded through ASES or 21st CCLC Recommended Yes
Snacks or meals provided through CNP funds No Yes

 

California Education Code Requirements

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

Food

Snacks provided in ASES and 21st Century funded ASPs must be fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein or whole grain-rich food items; foods with a fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein, or whole grain-rich item as the first ingredient; or combination foods containing at least one-quarter cup of fruit or vegetable that meet all of the following standards. Each individual food item must:

  • Not be deep fried, par fried, or flash fried by the entity preparing the food item
  • Not 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 less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving
  • Contain less than or equal to 35 percent of its total calories from fat (This does not apply to individually packaged portions of nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed butters, reduced-fat cheese or part skim mozzarella cheese.)
  • Contain less than 10 percent of its total calories from saturated fat (This does not apply to individually packaged portions of reduced-fat cheese or part skim mozzarella cheese, nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed butters, or a dried fruit and nut and seed combination.)
  • Contain less than or equal to 35 percent of its total weight from sugar, including naturally occurring and added sugar (This does not apply to fruits, vegetables that have not been deep fried, or a dried fruit and nut and seed combination.)
  • Contain no more than 200 milligrams of sodium per item
  • Contain no more than 200 calories per individual food item

Beverages

Only the following beverages may be served to students:

  • Fruit-based drinks that are composed of no less than 50 percent fruit juice and have no added sweetener in a maximum serving size of 8 fluid ounces for elementary school or 12 fluid ounces for middle school and high school
  • Vegetable-based drinks that are composed of no less than 50 percent vegetable juice and have no added sweetener in a maximum serving size of 8 fluid ounces for elementary school or 12 fluid ounces for middle school and high school
  • Plain water or plain carbonated water
  • One-percent-fat unflavored milk, nonfat flavored or unflavored milk, soy milk, rice milk, and other similar nondairy milk in a maximum serving size of 8 fluid ounces for elementary school or 12 fluid ounces for middle school and high school
  • A beverage shall not contain caffeine with the exception of trace amounts of naturally occurring caffeine substances
  • Beverages labeled or commonly referred to as sodas, colas, or soft drinks are not allowed
  • HIGH SCHOOL ONLY: Flavored water or flavored carbonated water with no added sweetener that is labeled to contain less than 5 calories per 8 fluid ounces in a maximum serving size of 20 fluid ounces
  • HIGH SCHOOL ONLY: Flavored water or flavored carbonated water with no added sweetener that is labeled to contain no more than 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces in a maximum serving size of 12 fluid ounces
  • HIGH SCHOOL ONLY: An electrolyte replacement beverage that contains less than 5 calories per 8 fluid ounce in a maximum serving size of 20 fluid ounces
  • HIGH SCHOOL ONLY: An electrolyte replacement beverage that contains no more than 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces in a maximum serving size of 12 fluid ounces

Definitions

“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

“Whole Grain-rich” - A food item that contains 50 percent or more whole grains by weight or has a whole grain as the first ingredient

Federal Reimbursable Snack Requirements

Federal Child 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.

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

  • Fluid Milk – 8 ounces
  • Fruit, Vegetable, or 100 percent Juice – ¾ cup
  • Grain/Bread – 1 slice bread, for example
  • Meat/Meat Alternate – 1 ounce meat, for example

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:

  • Fluid Milk – 8 ounces
  • Fruits and/or Vegetables – ¾ cup (at least two different items must be served, totaling ¾ cup)
  • Grain/Bread – 1 slice bread, for example
  • Meat/Meat Alternate – 2 ounces meat, for example

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..

Contacts

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 dtamanna@cde.ca.gov.

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
Last Reviewed: Thursday, November 17, 2016
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