Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Changes to the Competitive Food Rules

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program Sponsors

Attention: County and District Superintendents, Chief Business Officials, Food Service Directors, Parent–Teacher Association President, Associated Student Body Directors, and other Parent and Student Group Leaders

Number: SNP-11-2016

Date: April 2016

Reference: Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 210.11(c)(2)(v) and 210.11(i)

Subject: Changes to the Federal Competitive Food Requirements as of July 1, 2016

This Management Bulletin from the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division summarizes two changes to the competitive food requirements in the School Nutrition Programs. These changes occur in the federal Smart Snacks in School rule (as codified in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 210.11[c][2][v] and 210.11[i]) and become effective on July 1, 2016.

A competitive food is a food or beverage that is sold to a student on school campus, during the school day, and outside of the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.

General Nutrition Standards for Competitive Snacks and Entrées
Effective July 1, 2016, the criterion that allowed a food that contains at least 10 percent of the Daily Value for one of the following nutrients: calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber becomes obsolete and cannot be used to qualify a competitive snack or entrée food.

Therefore, as of July 1, 2016, the only two allowable general nutrition standards that can qualify a competitive snack or entrée for compliance are:

  • Fruit, vegetable, dairy food, protein, or whole grain-rich items or any food with fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein, or whole grain listed as the first ingredient
  • Combination foods, with at least two food groups that contain at least ¼ cup fruit and/or vegetable

To be compliant, a competitive snack or entrée must meet one of these general food standards as well as the applicable specific nutrition standards.

Restriction on Sodium for Competitive Snack Foods

Effective July 1, 2016, the sodium standard for a competitive snack is reduced to 200 milligrams (mg) per item or container. Please note that this does not affect the sodium standard for a competitive entrée, which is 480 mg per entrée.

Additional Information

The CDE will change all resources and supporting documents related to competitive foods as of July 1, 2016, to reflect these changes. Additional information on competitive foods is located on the CDE Competitive Foods and Beverages web page at

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact the Competitive Foods and Beverages team by email at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, April 20, 2023
Related Content
  • Child Nutrition Programs Course Catalog
    A catalog of online training courses for program operators participating in the Child Nutrition Programs.
  • Competitive Foods and Beverages
    Information on competitive foods and beverages including definitions, background, compliance, resources, policy guidance, and frequently asked questions for sponsors participating in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program.
  • Healthy Eating & Nutrition Education
    Information about improving nutrition and establishing healthy eating habits in school, child care, adult and after school settings.
  • School Nutrition
    Meal and milk programs offered at public and private non-profit schools and residential child care institutions.
  • School Nutrition Programs Management Bulletins
    School Nutrition Programs (SNP) management bulletins for sponsors of the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, and State Meal Program.
Recently Posted in Nutrition
  • Rural Non-congregate Meals Listening Session (added 11-Apr-2024)
    The CDE will host a Listening Session on Tuesday, April 30 from 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm on the rural non-congregate meal service option for summer meal programs.
  • Summer Meals Turnip the Beet Award Winners 2023 (added 09-Apr-2024)
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the 2023 Turnip the Beet award winners on March 13, 2024.
  • 2022 KIT $15 Million Funding Award Available (added 09-Apr-2024)
    Announcement regarding the availability of the 2022 Kitchen Infrastructure and Training fund, $15 million residual award amounts, including information on the timing of payment, accounting information, and use of funds.
  • School Lunch Hero Day—May 3, 2024 (added 05-Apr-2024)
    The School Food Hero Day is May 3, 2024. This month is the perfect time to celebrate and recognize the role that food service professionals play in supporting student health, school meals, and learning.
  • S-EBT Notification for CALPADS Administrators (added 04-Apr-2024)
    CALPADS Flash #269 sent on March 19, 2024. This Flash provides information for CALPADS administrators about the process of collecting data for the upcoming 2024 Summer EBT Program (also known as SUNBucks).