In California, any food or beverage sold to students on the school campus, during the school day, outside of the federally reimbursable meal programs is considered to compete with those meals, and is referred to as a competitive food or beverage. The following is a summary of the federal and state laws and regulations governing competitive food and beverage sales in California.
Local School Wellness Policy
All districts participating in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, or Special Milk Program must establish a local school wellness policy (LSWP) that, among other things, includes nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available on school campus, and only permit the marketing and advertising of foods and beverages that meet the SSIS standards under 7 CFR 210.11. The LSWP should, at a minimum, incorporate the current state and federal rules that govern competitive foods and beverages, but can impose more stringent requirements.
Local School Wellness Policy Public Notification
Every school or district participating in the NSLP or SBP shall inform the public about the content and implementation of the local school wellness policy, and make the policy and any updates to the policy available to the public on an annual basis.
Monitoring and Enforcement
The California Legislature encourages the governing board of a school district to annually review its compliance with the food and beverage rules. The CDE monitors SFAs and local educational agencies (LEA) for compliance with the competitive food and beverage rules through the administrative review process. The LEA is responsible for ensuring that all groups or individuals selling competitive foods or beverages maintain records that document compliance.
Fundraising with foods and beverages is allowed in California schools. California does not, however, allow exempted fundraisers—meaning that any foods or beverages sold as a fundraiser to students on school campus, during the school day, outside of the school meal program must comply with the state and federal competitive food or beverage restrictions. Fundraisers or sales of noncompliant foods or beverages are allowed when sold to adults, or off of the school campus, or outside of the school day.
Middle/High School – Food Restrictions
When referring to the food restrictions below, a middle/junior high contains grades 7 or 8, 7 to 9, or 7 to 10. A high school contains any of the grades 10 to 12. The following food restrictions are effective from midnight to one-half hour after the end of the official school day.
These food restrictions apply to ALL foods sold to students by any entity. Sold means the exchange of food for money, coupons, vouchers, or order forms, when any part of the exchange occurs on a school campus.
“Snack” foods must meet one of the following general food standards:
AND must meet the following nutrition standards:
“Entrée” foods must be intended as the main dish and be a:
A competitive entrée sold by District/School Food Service the day of or the day after it appears on the reimbursable meal program menu must be:
A competitive entrée sold by Food Service if NOT on the menu the day of or day after or any other entity (PTA, student organization, etc.) must meet one of the following general food standards:
AND meet the following nutrition standards:
* A whole grain item contains:
** Dried blueberries cranberries, cherries, tropical fruit, chopped dates, or chopped figs that contain added sugar are exempt from fat and sugar standards. Canned fruit in 100% juice only.
Check your district’s wellness policy for stricter rules.
Groups or individuals selling foods/beverages to students must keep their own records as proof of compliance.
Middle/High School – Beverage Restrictions
When referring to the food restrictions below, a middle/junior high contains grades 7 or 8, 7 to 9, or 7 to 10. A high school contains any of the grades 10 to 12. The following beverage restrictions are effective from midnight to one-half hour after the end of the official school day.
These beverage restrictions apply to ALL beverages sold to students by any entity. Sold means the exchange of beverages for money, coupons, vouchers, or order forms, when any part of the exchange occurs on a school campus.
A compliant beverage must be marketed or labeled as a fruit and/or vegetable juice, milk, non-dairy milk, water, electrolyte replacement beverage/sports drink, or flavored water AND meet all criteria under that specific category.
Middle/High School – Student Organizations
Student organization is defined as a group of students that are NOT associated with the curricula or academics of the school or district.
Effective from midnight to one-half hour after the end of the official school day.
Student organization sales must comply with all food and beverage standards AND all of the following:
Local School Wellness Policy
California Department of Education (DOE) – Home
California Education Code
Search for sections 49430-49436
California Code of Regulations
Search for Title 5, sections 15500-15501 and 15575-15578
Code of Federal Regulations
California Project Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition (LEAN) Calculator California Project LEAN has updated their online calculator to integrate the California and USDA requirements for competitive foods and beverages.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Smart Snacks in School This USDA Web page provides tools for schools that focus on smart snacks and compliance with the federal SSIS rule. Keep in mind that in some situations California rules on competitive foods and beverages are stricter than federal requirements.
Links to applicable competitive food and beverage communications distributed by the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division:
SNP-21-2016: U.S. Department of Agriculture's Smart Snacks in School Final Rule (Posted Oct-2016)
SNP-11-2016: Changes to the Federal Competitive Food Requirements as of July 1, 2016 (Posted Apr-2016)
SNP-20-2015: Competitive Foods and Beverages: Classifying Smoothies—Revised (Posted Apr-2015)
SNP-15-2015: Repeal of Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value (Posted Mar-2015)
SNP-11-2015: Competitive Foods and Beverages: Summary and Overview of State and Federal Rules (Posted May-2015)
SNP-34-2014: Smart Snacks for Exempt Foods When Paired Together (Posted Jan-2014)
SNP-28-2014: Competitive Foods and Beverages: Implementing the Definition of “Sold” (Posted Sep-2014)
SNP-27-2014: Competitive Foods and Beverages: Determining Compliant Beverages (Posted Oct-2014)
SNP-25-2014: Grain Entrées and Exempt Fundraisers Related to the Smart Snacks in School Rule (Posted Aug-2014)