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New HealthierUS School Challenge Criteria

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: USDA-SNP-24-2012

Attention: Food Service Director

Date: May 2012

Subject: New HealthierUS School Challenge Criteria

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Technical Assistance Memo TA 03-2012; Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, parts 210 and 220

This Management Bulletin (MB) provides information on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) criteria, published on February 29, 2012, in the Technical Assistance (TA) Memo TA 03-2012 (attached). The new criteria will align with the New Meal Pattern requirements and will go into effect July 1, 2012. The new HUSSC criteria can be accessed on the Team Nutrition (TN) Web page at

The HUSSC is a voluntary certification initiative that recognizes excellence in nutrition and physical activity. There will continue to be four award levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Gold Award of Distinction. The new criteria reflect changes to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) as stated in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, parts 210 and 220, while continuing to recognize schools that go above and beyond federal requirements for school meals.

Major changes to the HUSSC criteria include:

  • New Breakfast Criteria: Under the new criteria, schools must participate in the SBP and, for upper award levels, meet Average Daily Participation (ADP) criteria for breakfast. Schools must also meet criteria for fruits and/or vegetables and whole grains.
  • New “Other Criteria for Excellence” Category: Schools may meet criteria in this category by selecting from 20 options relating to program outreach, physical activity, nutrition education, and school and community involvement in wellness efforts. The number of options a school must accomplish varies by award level, ranging from two at the Bronze level to eight at the Gold Award of Distinction level.
  • Updated Lunch Criteria: The USDA has updated the HUSSC criteria to reflect NSLP meal pattern requirements, while continuing to encourage schools to offer a variety of vegetables, fresh fruit, and whole grain-rich foods.
  • ADP Calculation Method Change: Based on feedback the USDA has received from schools and states, the ADP criteria for the NSLP and SBP will be determined by attendance rather than enrollment. Calculating ADP in this manner is considered more equitable to schools as it does not include children that do not eat lunch and/or breakfast (e.g., half-day kindergartners) in the calculation.

The new criteria also includes modifications for nutrition education requirements for elementary and middle schools and updates Local Wellness Policy criteria to be consistent with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, Public Law 111-296. The USDA has made no changes to the HUSSC criteria for physical education, physical activity, or competitive foods at this time.

Schools will continue to receive monetary incentives for meeting the required criteria as stated in the April 2, 2010, HUSSC–Monetary Incentives TA Memo (TA 04-2010), which can be viewed at

Incentives include:

  • $500 Bronze
  • $1,000 Silver
  • $1,500 Gold
  • $2,000 Gold Award of Distinction

The USDA will revise the HUSSC application forms, TA materials, and training tools by summer 2012. The resources will be made available on the USDA HUSSC Web page at


Please note that any schools planning to apply under the current/old criteria must submit their applications to the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) by June 30, 2012, and must contact the NSD in advance, indicating their plan to submit by that deadline. For current application materials, criteria, and guidance (valid until June 30, 2012) please visit the Team Nutrition Web page at

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact Elizabeth Moreno, Nutrition Education Consultant, by phone at 916-324-9749 or by e-mail at You may also contact your Field Services Child Nutrition Consultant at 916-445-0850 or 800-952-5609.


USDA TA 03-2012 at
U.S. Department of Agriculture Technical Assistance Memo 03-2012.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, February 8, 2016
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