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, Afterschool Snack Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food 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. These unaffected sales may not take place in the foodservice area during meal times.
Please note that, even if a food is allowed to be sold during the school day according to the minimum 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 and are up to the schools to track on their own. They may not be sold in the foodservice area during mealtimes. 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
Fundraiser Tracking Tools - To request editable versions of the tracker(s), contact
MDE-SchoolNutrition@michigan.gov or 517-241-5374.
Fundraiser/Food Tracking Tools - See above in "Michigan Fundraiser Exemptions" section
The recipes below meet Smart Snacks standards (be sure to follow instructions and serve 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 recipe compliance documentation is not allowed on this website. The following recipes are available below and their companion compliance documents are available upon request (MDE-SchoolNutrition@michigan.gov or 517-241-5374):
Popcorn - Generic Trans Fat-Free Oil Recipe
Popcorn - Blue Raspberry Recipe
Popcorn - Caramel Recipe
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)
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 but does not require 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.
- 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. Also, food provided as a reward for good behavior or school performance does not need to follow the standards, nor does food for classroom or school parties if the funds are collected in advance and not at the point of service.
- 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 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! 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.
MDE SNP Policy 21 - Noncompliant Food Fundraiser Guidance
Smart Snacks Compliant Blue Raspberry Popcorn Recipe
Smart Snacks Compliant Caramel Popcorn Recipe
Smart Snacks Compliant Fundraiser Tracker
Smart Snacks Compliant Popcorn Recipe
Smart Snacks Exempt Fundraiser Tracker