Smart Snacks in Schools
The Smart Snacks in School standards, which took effect July 2014, are required to be followed by all schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In July 2016, the Smart Snacks Final Rule was published.
The Smart Snacks in School standards apply to all foods and beverages sold to students during the school day outside of federally reimbursable meal programs (i.e., outside of NSLP, School Breakfast Program and the Afterschool Snack Program), also called "competitive foods." The standards do not affect sales during the school day of bulk food fundraisers not meant for immediate consumption (e.g., Girl Scout Cookies, frozen pizza kits, frozen cookie dough), classroom parties, food brought from home or food given as a reward for performance or behavior.
Please note that, even if a food is allowed to be sold during the school day according to the Smart Snacks standards, schools must follow their Local Wellness Policies (LWP); if a LWP is more restrictive, it must be followed.
As of July 2015, Michigan allows certain food and beverage fundraiser exemptions during the school day that do not need to meet the Smart Snacks standards. See below for more details.
National Websites & References
USDA Smart Snacks in School Website
Smart Snacks Resource Website from the School Nutrition Association and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Michigan Fundraiser Exemptions
As of July 2015, Michigan allows two fundraisers per week per school building that do not meet the Smart Snacks standards. A fundraiser may last up to one (1) day. These exemptions are optional. The following resources provide more information and allow schools to better track these exemptions.
Non-Compliant Food Fundraiser Guidance - MDE Policy Memo No. 21, SY 2014-15 - Available upon request.
Fundraiser Tracking Tools - These trackers are unable to be posted on this website, but can be provided upon request. To request tracker(s), contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-373-3347.
Compliant Competitive Food Sale Tracker (Excel, updated July 2015)
Exempt Fundraiser Tracker (Excel, updated July 2015)
Smart Snacks Calculator from Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Smart Snacks Product Navigator - National Approved Items List from Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Fundraiser/Food Tracking Tools - See above in "Michigan Fundraiser Exemptions" section; available upon request
The recipes below meet Smart Snacks standards (be sure to follow instructions and give in proper portion sizes!). We encourage you to share any other recipes that meet the guidelines with us so that we can share with other Michigan folks! MDE does not intend to endorse any specific products or manufacturers.
The current format of the recipes and their compliance documentation is not allowed on this website. The following recipes are available upon request (email@example.com or 517-373-3347):
Popcorn - Generic Trans Fat-Free Oil
Popcorn - Blue Raspberry
Popcorn - Caramel
Presentations - Feel free to use for your own educational purposes and edit as needed!
Smart Snacks Q & A
USDA Smart Snacks Q&A (updated March 2015)
MDE Additional Q&A on Smart Snacks (updated August 2015)
The following are a sampling of the questions most often asked of the MDE School Nutrition Programs unit:
Common Smart Snacks Q&A:
- Does Michigan allow for any food fundraisers to be exempt from the Smart Snacks standards? Yes. As of July 2015, Michigan allows optional food fundraiser exemptions. Up to two food/beverage fundraisers per school building per week are allowed. Please see MDE non-compliant fundraiser exemption memo for more details.
- What about bulk food fundraisers? Are these allowed? Bulk food fundraisers not meant for immediate consumption are allowed to be sold during the school day without needing to meet Smart Snacks guidelines. This includes Girl Scout Cookies, bulk popcorn, preordered bulk foods or snacks, frozen pizza kits, cookie dough and more. Please note that sales of these items is not allowed in the foodservice area during mealtimes.
- What about classroom parties or teacher "treat" rewards? As of March 2015, USDA is now allowing classroom parties (even if they require money that is collected ahead of time) and teacher "treat" rewards or food rewards for school performance or good behavior to NOT meet the Smart Snacks standards. As of this date, these two scenarios do not need to meet Smart Snacks guidelines. Click here for more detailed information (see questions on pages 12-13).
- Can I still serve popcorn made in my school's popcorn machine? Generally, popcorn made in machines results in fat and sodium levels that exceed the standards. However, MDE and foodservice directors have worked together to find a number of popcorn recipes that meet the standards (see "Recipes" section above). Your school or district is also encouraged to come up with its own recipes that meet the guidelines. The Product Navigator also has several packaged popcorn options that meet the standards.
- How is “for sale to students” defined? Any food provided to students that requires payment, contribution, exchange of tickets or tokens of any sort at the time of exchange would be required to be compliant with the Smart Snacks nutrition standards. Items not available to students (such as food available only to adults) for consumption during the school day or food brought in for sack lunches, school celebrations, holiday parties, etc. would be exempt.
- How will I know if the products sold to students during the school day are non-compliant with this law? Try using the Smart Snacks Product Calculator to take help identify if a food or beverage meets the nutrition standards. Be careful though – it’s very important to enter the information correctly in the calculator to get accurate results about compliance or non-compliance! When asked in the calculator about the type of protein in the product, “other” (choice ‘e’) must be chosen if the protein listed is not from one of the exempt categories in order to get accurate results. For example, if peanuts are the first ingredient listed, but Soy Protein Isolate is the second ingredient (and therefore, the protein source in the product), “other” is the only appropriate choice in the calculator.
- I don’t have time to run all of my products through this calculator! Then try contacting your distributor for a list of products they believe meet the Smart Snacks nutrition standards or browse the Product Navigator to help you identify products that meet the Smart Snacks standards. You can search by company to see if your vendor is in the database and identify compliant products that they have. In addition, check out the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition “A-List” of products. Reminder: just because a company puts a product on a “compliant list” doesn’t exempt you from running that product through the calculator yourself to assure that it really does meet the Smart Snacks nutrition standards. Product formulations change frequently and at times it is difficult for distributors to keep up with changes.
- Our school food service department doesn’t run the school store, snack cart, vending machines, or fundraisers! This is where communication to others is going to be key to successful compliance with the Smart Snacks in School rule. Engage your School or District Business Officer. Find out whom in your school or district deals with the vendors and manages actual contracts and let them know about the Smart Snacks nutrition standards. Ask them to help you identify contracts that may need amending based on the results of the product inventories you completed, and identify the vendors who need to be contacted.
- What is a “compliant fundraiser”? Entertainment books, “a-thons” (such as walk-a-thon, skate-a-thon, etc.), spirit wear, a school garden-based farmers market, SCRIP, and silent auctions are just a few ideas. Log into the Alliance for a Healthier Generation website to find a growing list of allowable fundraisers.
- How will a la carte items be affected by these standards? The new Smart Snacks nutrition standards exempt individual entrée items offered as part of lunch or breakfast from all competitive food standards when sold a la carte the day of or the day after they are served as a part of the reimbursable meal. This allows schools some flexibility in planning a la carte sales and handling leftovers.