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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: Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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