Smart Snacks

At-A-Glance: Smart Snacks Guidance for Administrators

What is the Smart Snacks Rule?

Effective July 1, 2014, any food or beverage sold to students outside of Child Nutrition Programs on school campus during the school day must meet federal Smart Snacks nutrition guidelines. The school nutrition service is required to maintain records, such as nutrition labels and product specifications, for competitive foods sold under the nonprofit school food service account. It is the local educational agency’s responsibility to ensure that similar records are kept, and regular monitoring conducted, for all other food sales occurring on the school campus during the school day.

School campus: All areas of the property under school jurisdiction that is accessible to students.

School day: Midnight the day before to 30 minutes after the last class ends.

What does this apply to?

  • A la carte sales, vending machines, school stores, snack carts and fundraisers.

What does this NOT apply to?

  • Concession stands during afterschool activities (these are not held during the school day).
  • Birthday treats or food brought from home (these are not sold to students).
  • Vending machines in teacher’s lounges (these are not accessible to students).

What’s “in” and what’s “out” for snack items?

There are many healthy snack products that students enjoy that will meet the nutrition standards. Some items include peanuts, light popcorn, low-fat chips, granola bars, fruit cup, vegetables and no-calorie flavored water. Snack items that are not allowed generally will include candy, cookies, cake, doughnuts, high calorie energy bars and regular soda.


Fundraisers fall under the Smart Snacks regulation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers a fundraiser to be an event that includes any activity during which students exchange currency/tokens/tickets, etc., for the sale/purchase of a product in support of the school or school-related activities. The product is intended to be consumed during the school day. The State of Minnesota has decided to allow zero Smart Snack exempted fundraisers.


  • Giving away food but suggesting a donation.
  • Vending machine when the profits are used to support a school-sponsored club or activity such as the school band or football team.
  • Special treats: Root beer floats sold during lunch hour by a student organization.
  • Breakfast bake sales offered to students.
  • Pizza sold in classroom.

Monitoring and Compliance

Who? Anyone involved with selling food to students during the school day will need to play a role in meeting recordkeeping requirements. This may involve the superintendent, principal, business manager, athletic director, teachers, nutrition service staff, or other administrative or teaching personnel depending on the school’s circumstances.

What? Nutrition labels and product specification sheets are needed for every food item sold to students during the school day on the school campus.

Smart Snacks Success is as easy as 1-2-3!

We know that many school administrators may not be fully aware of the number of fundraisers that are taking place in schools. Begin by “taking stock” and identifying the groups or organizations that are holding food fundraisers. Communicate the required nutrition standards with all stakeholders, including students, to implement a successful change.

  1. Know Your Venues

First, get organized! Take inventory of every place in your building where snacks and beverages are being sold. Identify each location and the person responsible for that location. Often, this involves more than just the cafeteria. Is the district business office responsible for the vending machine contracts? Does the student council run the school store or snack cart? What groups have fundraisers and what are they selling?

  1. Get Others Involved and Build Support

Once you have identified everyone responsible for selling snacks and beverages in the school building, it is time to build consensus by educating your school community about the new standards. Inform teachers, athletic directors, business officers, and anyone else who may sell foods or beverages to students.

  1. Know Your Products

Take an inventory of all items sold in each venue and determine if each item meets the Smart Snacks Guidelines. To help you do so, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation has created a product calculator that simplifies this step.

List of Suggested Products

The Connecticut State Department of Education has created a sample list of products that likely meet the Smart Snacks Guidelines. Because of the ever changing nature of production formulation and discontinuation, it is important that users check each food item’s label to confirm its current compliance before using. To view this list and other Smart Snacks resources, visit MDE’s Smart Snacks website.

The Bottom Line

  • If a food or beverage meets the Smart Snacks Guidelines, it can be sold anywhere, anytime, as a fundraiser or otherwise.
  • If a food or beverage does not meet the Smart Snacks Guidelines, then it must be replaced with a compliant product, sold off school grounds, or sold 30 minutes after the last class ends.