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Competitive Foods and FMNV--Clarification

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy

To: Child Nutrition Sponsors

Number: USDA-SNP-18-2011

Attention: Food Service Program Directors

Date: August 2011

Subject: Clarification of Competitive Foods and Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value

Reference: SP 09-2011; TA 02-2011 (USDA Policy on clarifying differences between the terms “competitive foods” and “foods of minimal nutritional value”)

This Management Bulletin (MB) notifies National School Lunch Program (NSLP) sponsors of the separate and distinct definitions of the terms “competitive foods” and “foods of minimal nutritional value.” In response to questions received about these two terms, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued Policy Memo SP 09-2011 (also distributed as a Technical Assistance Memo, TA 02-2011) that provides additional clarification of each of these terms. The Policy Memo is available at the USDA Policy Memo Web page

The Policy Memo reiterates the definition of “competitive food” as “any food item that is sold in competition with the reimbursable meal.” While a “food of minimal nutritional value” (FMNV) is a specific food or beverage that cannot be sold in the food service area during a meal period. “Food service area” is defined as anywhere a reimbursable meal is served or consumed. Visit the Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value USDA Web page for a list of FMNV foods and beverages at [Note, the preceding Web address is no longer valid].

The USDA has the authority to exempt a food or beverage from the FMNV list, therefore allowing its sale in the food service area during a meal time. But the exempted FMNV can only be sold as a competitive food item and not as a component of the reimbursable meal. For a current list of exempted FMNV, please visit our Exemptions Under the Competitive Foods Regulation Web page at  

For more information or clarification, please contact Mike Danzik, Nutrition Education Specialist, by phone at 916-445-7346, or by e-mail at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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