Nutrition standards list criteria that
determine which foods and beverages can
and cannot be offered on a school campus.
One approach to setting standards is to
increase options, such as requiring that
schools offer fruits or vegetables at all
locations where snacks are available. A
second approach is to limit options, such as
stipulating that schools cannot sell foods with
more than a specified number of grams of fat
per serving, or cannot deep-fry foods.
Nutrition standards can address a variety of
issues as illustrated by Table 3.
Nutrition standards are often
incorporated into the written
policies of a State agency, school
district, or school. They can be
mandatory or voluntary. When
appropriate, they can be
accompanied by information on
brand name products that
meet the nutrition standards.
What does it mean to establish nutrition standards?
Table 3. Options for nutrition standards
Establish Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods
Food and beverages
anywhere on campus
Entire school day
All competitive foods and
beverages or all foods of
minimal nutritional value
maximum 12 ounces
Foods and beverages in
specified settings, e.g.,
Specified grade levels
Part of the school day
Specified items such as
carbonated soft drinks,
snack cakes, or deep-
Snack items, e.g.,
maximum one serving
Specified items based on
nutrient criteria: e.g.,
limits on the amount of
fat, saturated fat, added
sugars, or sodium
À la carte items, e.g., no
larger than Federal meal
Why develop nutrition standards?
With today’s complex food supply, it can be
challenging to identify the most appropriate
food and beverage options. Standards make it
easier by providing objective criteria that can
be applied consistently.
Setting nutrition standards reflects the
“healthy choice” perspective that schools
should give students a wide array of choices
that are all nut