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Competitive Foods Reference - Charter or Private

A resource to assist groups or individuals that sell foods and beverages to students, during the school day, on the school campus, outside of the school meal program.

Key

* A whole grain item contains:

  • A whole grain as the first ingredient, or
  • A combination of whole grain ingredients comprising at least 50 percent of the total grain weight

** Dried blueberries cranberries, cherries, tropical fruit, chopped dates, or chopped figs containing added sugar are exempt from the sugar standards.

Elementary School – Food Restrictions

References: Code of Federal Regulations sections 210.11, 220.12

  • Effective from midnight to one-half hour after the end of the official school day.
  • Applies to all foods sold to students by any entity.

Compliant foods

Must meet one of the following general food standards:
  • Be a fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein, or whole grain item* (or have one of these be the first ingredient), or

  • Be a combination food containing at least a quarter cup of fruit or vegetable.
Must meet the following nutrition standards:
  • Less than or equal to 35 percent calories from fat (except nuts, seeds, reduced-fat cheese/part skim mozzarella, eggs, dried fruit and nut/seed combo, seafood), and

  • Less than 10 percent calories from saturated fat (except nuts, seeds, reduced-fat cheese/part skim mozzarella, eggs, dried fruit and nut/seed combo), and

  • Less than or equal to 35 percent sugar by weight (except dried fruit**/vegetables, dried fruit and nut/seed combo), and

  • Less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving (no exceptions), and

  • Less than or equal to 200 milligrams sodium per snack or less than or equal to 480 milligrams per entree (no exceptions), and

  • Less than or equal to 200 calories per snack or less than or equal to 350 calories per entree item (no exceptions)

All fresh, canned, frozen fruits in 100 percent juice, extra light, or light syrup; fresh, canned vegetables (low sodium, no salt added, or containing a small amount of sugar) are exempt from all nutrition standards.

Paired Foods

  • If exempt food(s) are combined with nonexempt food(s) or added fat/sugar they must meet all nutrition standards above.
  • If two foods exempt from one or more of the nutrition standards are paired together and sold as a single item, the item must meet for trans fat, sodium, and calories.

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)/School Breakfast Program (SBP) Entrees

  • All entrees served as part of the NSLP/SBP, and grain-only entrees served as part of the SBP, are exempt from all competitive food standards the day of or day after they appear on the NSLP/SBP menu.

A competitive entree (non NSLP/SBP) is intended as the main dish and contains a:

  • Meat/meat alternate and whole grain rich item, or
  • Meat/meat alternate and fruit/vegetable, or
  • Meat/meat alternate alone (not yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds, or meat snacks = these are considered a “snack” food).
  • AND must meet nutrition standards (see above).

All foods must be caffeine-free (trace amounts are allowable).

Check your district’s wellness policy for stricter rules.

Groups or individuals selling foods/beverages to students must keep their own records as proof of compliance.

Elementary School – Beverage Restrictions

References: Code of Federal Regulations sections 210.11, 220.12

  • Effective from midnight to one-half hour after the end of the official school day.
  • Applies to ALL beverages sold to students by any entity.

Compliant Beverages

  • Fruit or Vegetable juice:
    • 100 percent juice (can be diluted with water, no dilution limit), and
    • No added sweeteners, and
    • Less than or equal to 8 fluid ounce serving size

  • Milk:
    • 1 percent (unflavored), nonfat (flavored, unflavored), and
    • Less than or equal to 8 fluid ounce serving size

  • Non-dairy milk:
    • Nutritionally equivalent to milk, must contain per 8 fluid ounces:
      • At least 276 milligrams calcium
      • At least 8 grams protein
      • At least 500 IU Vitamin A
      • At least 100 IU Vitamin D
      • At least 24 milligrams magnesium
      • At least 222 milligrams phosphorus
      • At least 349 milligrams potassium
      • At least 0.44 milligrams riboflavin
      • At least 1.1 micrograms Vitamin B12, and
      • Less than or equal to 8 fluid ounce serving size

  • Water:
    • No added sweeteners, flavors, etc.
    • No serving size limit
All beverages must be caffeine-free (trace amounts allowable).

Middle/High School – Food Restrictions

References: Code of Federal Regulations sections 210.11, 220.12

  • Effective from midnight to one-half hour after the end of the official school day.
  • Applies to ALL foods sold to students by any entity.

Compliant Foods

Must meet one of the following general food standards:
  • Be a fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein, or whole grain item* (or have one of these be the first ingredient), or
  • Be a combination food containing at least a quarter cup of fruit or vegetable.
Must meet the following nutrition standards:
  • Less than or equal to 35 percent calories from fat (except nuts, seeds, reduced-fat cheese/part skim mozzarella, eggs, dried fruit and nut/seed combo, seafood), and

  • Less than 10 percent calories from saturated fat (except nuts, seeds, reduced-fat cheese/part skim mozzarella, eggs, dried fruit and nut/seed combo), and

  • Less than or equal to 35 percent sugar by weight (except dried fruit**/veggies, dried fruit and nut/seed combo), and

  • Less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving (no exceptions), and

  • Less than or equal to 200 milligrams sodium per snack or less than or equal to 480 milligrams per entree (no exceptions), and

  • Less than or equal to 200 calories per snack or less than or equal to 350 calories per entree item (no exceptions)

All fresh, canned, frozen fruits in 100 percent juice, extra light, or light syrup; fresh, canned vegetables (low sodium, no salt added, or containing a small amount of sugar) are exempt from all nutrition standards.

Paired Foods

  • If exempt food(s) are combined with nonexempt food(s) or added fat/sugar they must meet all nutrition standards above.
  • If two foods exempt from one or more of the nutrition standards are paired together and sold as a single item, the item must meet for trans fat, sodium, and calories.

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)/School Breakfast Program (SBP) Entrees

  • All entrees served as part of the NSLP/SBP, and grain-only entrees served as part of the SBP, are exempt from all competitive food standards the day of or day after they appear on the NSLP/SBP menu.

A competitive entree (non NSLP/SBP) is intended as the main dish and contains a:

  • Meat/meat alternate and whole grain rich item, or
  • Meat/meat alternate and fruit/vegetable, or
  • Meat/meat alternate alone (not yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds, or meat snacks = these are considered a “snack” food).
  • AND must meet nutrition standards (see above).

Foods containing caffeine are not allowed in middle school.

Foods containing caffeine are allowed in high school.

Check your district’s wellness policy for stricter rules.

Groups or individuals selling foods/beverages to students must keep their own records as proof of compliance.

Middle/High School – Beverage Restrictions

References: Code of Federal Regulations sections 210.11, 220.12

  • Effective from midnight to one-half hour after the end of the official school day.
  • Applies to all beverages sold to students by any entity.

Compliant Beverages

  • Fruit or Vegetable juice:
    • 100 percent juice (can be diluted with water, no dilution limit), and
    • No added sweeteners, and
    • Less than or equal to 12 fluid ounce serving size

  • Milk:
    • One percent (unflavored), nonfat (flavored, unflavored), and
    • Less than 12 fluid ounce serving size

  • Non-dairy milk:
    • Nutritionally equivalent to milk, must contain per 8 fluid ounces:
      • At least 276 milligrams calcium
      • At least 8 grams protein
      • At least 500 IU Vitamin A
      • At least 100 IU Vitamin D
      • At least 24 milligrams magnesium
      • At least 222 milligrams phosphorus
      • At least 349 milligrams potassium
      • At least 0.44 milligrams riboflavin
      • At least 1.1 micrograms Vitamin B12, and
      • Less than or equal to 12 fluid ounce serving size

  • Water:
    • No added sweeteners, flavors, etc.
    • No serving size limit

  • Other flavored beverages (“no calorie”):
    (High Schools Only)
    • Less than or equal to 5 calories per 8 fluid ounces (or less than or equal to 10 calories per 20 fluid ounces)
    • Less than or equal to 20 fluid ounce serving size

  • Other flavored beverages (“low calorie”)
    (High Schools Only)
    • Less than or equal to 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces
    • Less than or equal to 12 fluid ounce serving size
Beverages containing caffeine are not allowed in middle school.

Beverages containing caffeine are allowed in high school.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | COMPETITIVEFOODS@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 06, 2024
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