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General Overview of

USDA Smart Snacks Rule - Updated Sept. 2023

These science-based nutrition standards promote a healthy school environment and apply to all foods and beverages sold outside of the reimbursable school nutrition program meals.

All a la carte items (snack items) must meet the Smart Snacks standards.

All a la carte items must meet at least one of the following criteria for all age/grade levels:
    1. be a Whole grain rich product
    2. First ingredient is fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein
    3. A combination food with at least 1/4 cup fruit and/or vegetable

AND must meet all these nutrient requirements
          Calories - <200
          Sodium - <200mg per serving
          Total Fat - <35% of total Calories from fat per serving
          Saturated Fat - <10% of total calories per serving
          Trans Fat - zero grams
          Total Sugar - <35% of weight from total sugars per foods

Beverage Standards:

All schools may sell:

Plain water (with or without carbonation)

• Unflavored low fat milk

• Unflavored or flavored fat free milk and milk alternatives permitted by NSLP/SBP

• 100% fruit or vegetable juice and

• 100% fruit or vegetable juice diluted with water (with or without carbonation), and no added sweeteners.

Elementary schools may sell up to 8 oz portions, while middle schools and high schools may sell up to 12 oz portions of milk and juice.  There is no portion size limit for plain water.


Beyond this, the standards allow additional “no calorie” and “lower calorie” beverage options for high school students.

No  more than 20-ounce portions of

• Calorie-free, flavored water (with or without carbonation); and

• Other flavored and/or carbonated beverages that are labeled to contain < 5 calories per 8 fluid ounces or 

   <10 calories per 20 fluid ounces.

• No more than 12-ounce portions of

• Beverages with < 40 calories per 8 fluid ounces, or < 60 calories per 12 fluid ounces.



Accompaniments such as cream cheese, salad dressing and butter must be included in the nutrient profile

as part of the food item sold.

• This helps control the amount of calories, fat, sugar and sodium added to foods by accompaniments, which can be significant.

Sodium limits for reimbursable meals effective for 2023-3024 School Year including condiments to meet Sodium Interim Target 1A

            Elementary – 1,110 mg on average per meal
            Middle School – 1,225 mg on average per meal
            High School – 1,280 mg on average per meal

In an effort to meet the Nutritional guidelines for sodium in school meals, condiments are now portion controlled at all grade levels instead of self service.  Condiments do not meet the guidelines for "Smart Snack" sales and therefore CANNOT be sold as extras.

Condiments are generally high in sodium
      * nutritional values of condiments must be included in total meal calculations for 
calories & sodium
      * must use portion control to meet guidelines
* Ketchup – new lower sodium packets served with limits                                                                                       
      *Assorted salad dressings for chef salads – don’t meet requirements for smart snacks for a la carte sales.  One is     offered with a meal, not allowed to purchase extra.