New Standard Eliminates Unhealthy School Snacks

Student enjoying a healthy snack as defined by the Smart Snacks in Schools Standard

Students across the country will have to say goodbye to unhealthy foods sold in school. On June 27, 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its new Smart Snacks in School nutrition standard. 

The standard was created under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, established in 2010, and was adopted as final rule with some modifications on July 29, 2016. This regulation defines what food options outside of the school meal programs can be provided in cafeterias, vending machines, and any other locations in schools where food is sold.

To qualify as a smart snack, a menu item must first meet these general nutrition standards:

  • Be classified as a grain product containing 50% or more whole grains by weight (have a whole grain as the first ingredient); or 
  • Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food; or 
  • Be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable; and 
  • The food must meet the nutrient standards for calories, sodium, sugar, and fats

Students will still be allowed to bring bagged lunches to school and classrooms as the standards only apply to school-sold food items. 

For more details about the Smart Snacks in School standard, visit

This blog, originally posted in July 2013, has been revised to reflect the updated guidelines in the USDA Guide to Smart Snacks in Schools published in July 2019.

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