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Competitive Foods and Beverages


Competitive foods and beverages are those that are sold at school outside of and in competition with the federally reimbursable meal programs. Examples of competitive foods and beverages include those sold during the school day in vending machines (that are not reimbursable meals), student stores, á la carte items sold by the school food service department, or as fundraisers.

Competitive foods and beverages are governed by different laws, regulations, or policies at the federal, state, and school district levels. Congress enacts federal laws and the United States Department of Agriculture promulgates regulations related to school nutrition. At the state level, the Legislature enacts laws and the State Board of Education adopts regulations related to nutrition. Lastly, each school district participating in a federally reimbursable meal program is required to adopt a Local School Wellness Policy.

While it is necessary for groups selling foods and beverages on school campuses to know and understand each set of rules and how they interrelate, the variety of federal and state laws and regulations (and local policies) are complicated and may appear to be confusing. To assist with compliance and understanding, the California Department of Education, Nutrition Services Division created the following list of tools and resources. As the competitive food and beverage requirements evolve, the NSD will continue to update and add relevant tools and other resources.

If you have any questions, please contact Mike Danzik, Nutrition Education Consultant, at 916-445-7346 or by e-mail at

Information, Tools, and Resources

Summary of Competitive Food and Beverage Requirements
An overview of the different laws and regulations that govern competitive foods and beverage sales on school campuses.

Competitive Food Frequently Asked Questions
A list of questions and answers to aid understanding of the competitive food and beverage requirements.

Competitive Food and Beverage Training
Training modules for competitive food and beverage regulations.

Competitive Food Quick Reference Cards (DOC)
A compact set of cards containing a summary of the competitive food and beverage requirements to laminate and keep with you for quick reference.

Foods for Healthy Schools
Located on the USDA Web site, a database that contains a California Department of Education-approved foods and beverages compliant with nutrition standards.

Road Map To Compliance
Contains a flow chart that moves the user through a series of questions in order to determine compliance for specific foods or beverages (see Module III, handouts 2 and 3).

Management Bulletins and Information Alerts
Links to applicable competitive food and beverage communications distributed by the California Department of Education’s Nutrition Services Division.

Questions: Mike Danzik | | 916-445-7346 
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