Competitive Foods and Beverages
All public noncharter school food authorities (SFA) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) must follow state and federal requirements for competitive foods and beverages. On July 1, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Smart Snacks in School (SSIS) rule became effective; this Web page incorporates the SSIS requirements with California’s current nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages.
Competitive foods and beverages are those that are sold to students on school campus, during the school day, 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, and policies at the federal, state, and school district levels. Congress enacts laws and the USDA 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 SFA participating in a federally reimbursable meal program is required to adopt a local school wellness policy that includes nutrition standards for all foods and beverages that are available for sale to students.
While it is necessary for groups selling foods and beverages on school campuses to know and understand each set of rules and how they connect, the federal and state laws and regulations (and local policies) are complicated. To assist with compliance and understanding, the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division (NSD) created the list of tools and resources found on this web page. 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 on this subject, please contact the competitive foods and beverages team by e-mail at COMPETITIVEFOODS@cde.ca.gov.
This section provides an overview of the laws and regulations that govern competitive food and beverage sales on school campuses.
California Summary of Competitive Foods and Beverages
In California, any food or beverage sold to students on the school campus, during the school day, outside of the federally reimbursable meal programs is considered to compete with those meals, and is referred to as a competitive food or beverage. The following is a summary of the federal and state laws and regulations governing competitive food and beverage sales in California.
Local School Wellness Policy
Reference: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Section 204
All districts participating in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, or Special Milk Program must establish a local school wellness policy (LSWP) that, among other things, includes nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available on school campus.
The LSWP should, at a minimum, incorporate the current state and federal rules that govern competitive foods and beverages, but can impose more stringent requirements.
Local School Wellness Policy Posting
Reference: California Education Code (EC), Section 49432
Every public school shall post the school district's nutrition and physical activity policies in public view within all school cafeterias or other central eating areas.
Monitoring and Enforcement
References: EC sections 49431(c), 49431.2(d), and 49434; Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR) Part 210.11
The California Legislature encourages the governing board of a school district to annually review its compliance with the food and beverage rules.
The CDE monitors SFAs and local educational agencies (LEA) for compliance with the competitive food and beverage rules through the administrative review process.
The LEA is responsible for ensuring that all groups or individuals selling competitive foods or beverages maintain records that document compliance.
Fundraising with foods and beverages is allowed in California schools. California does not, however, allow exempted fundraisers—meaning that any foods or beverages sold as a fundraiser to students on school campus, during the school day, outside of the school meal program must comply with the state and federal competitive food or beverage restrictions. Fundraisers or sales of noncompliant foods or beverages are allowed when sold to adults, or off of the school campus, or outside of the school day.
Elementary, Middle, and High School—Food and Beverage Restrictions
Refer to the Quick Reference Cards—Public Schools (DOC) or the Quick Reference Cards—Charter or Private Schools (DOC) to review all state and federal statute and regulatory references and a summary of all requirements.
None scheduled at this time.
Training Registration Instructions
Training registration for child nutrition sponsors is available on the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) Training Registration Web page . Please review the instructions below before starting the registration process.
Child Nutrition Program Sponsors Instructions
- Obtain your sponsor five-digit CNIPS User ID number or personal CNIPS User ID and password to use for registration.
- Visit the CNIPS Training Registration Web page and begin the online registration process.
- Enter your sponsor five-digit CNIPS User ID or personal User ID and password.
- Select Register for Training or select View Available Training if your agency is currently not an approved sponsor.
- Select All on the Program Training Available page.
- Select desired course on the Available Training(s) Screen.
- Select preferred time and location on the Available Training Locations page.
- Enter the attendees contact information on the Attendee Information page.
- Before exiting the system, print the Training Confirmation (last screen in the online registration process). This is your only record.
Registration Assistance and Cancellation Procedure
If you need assistance with online registration, please contact the CNIPS Help Desk weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by phone at 800-952-5609, Option 6, or by e-mail at CNIPS@cde.ca.gov.
Competitive Food Frequently Asked Questions
This section provides a list of questions and answers to aid in understanding the competitive food and beverage requirements. Questions and answers provided are based on the integration of the USDA SSIS and California competitive food and beverage requirements.
Please check back; updates will be available soon.
Competitive Food and Beverage Training Materials
The following training materials represent an updated version of the NSD Competitive Food and Beverage trainings. These resources address the integration of the state and federal competitive food and beverage requirements as of July 1, 2014. Materials provided include PowerPoint presentations that can be used by food service staff, Parent–Teacher Associations, and student organizations; general handouts; and fundraising resources.
Please check back; updates will be available soon.
Resources and Guidance
Competitive Food Quick Reference Cards—Public Schools | DOC
Includes a summary of the competitive food and beverage requirements for Public Schools to laminate and keep for quick reference.
Competitive Food Quick Reference Cards—Charter or Private Schools | DOC
Includes a summary of the competitive food and beverage requirements for Charter or Private Schools to laminate and keep for quick reference.
Management Bulletins and Information Alerts
Links to applicable competitive food and beverage communications distributed by the CDE NSD.
California Project Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition (LEAN) Calculator
California Project LEAN has updated their online calculator to integrate the California and USDA requirements for competitive foods and beverages.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Smart Snacks in School
This USDA Web page provides tools for schools that focus on smart snacks and compliance with the federal SSIS rule. Keep in mind that in some situations California rules on competitive foods and beverages are stricter than federal requirements.