Smart Snacks in Schools Standards
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do the new Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards do?
The new standards will allow schools to offer healthier snack foods for children. Students will still be able to buy snacks that meet common-sense standards for fat, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium, while promoting products that have whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables or protein foods as their main ingredients. It is important to note that the USDA has no role in regulating foods brought from home. The standards do not apply to any foods brought to school in bagged lunches, or for birthday parties and special events, including fundraisers held more than 30 minutes after the school day ends.
2. What is the definition of the school day?
For the purpose of competitive food standards implementation, the USDA defines the school day as the period from the midnight the night before, to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day.
3. What is the definition of the school campus?
For the purpose of competitive foods standards implementation, the school campus is defined as all areas of the property under the jurisdiction of the school that are accessible to students during the school day.
4. What is the definition of a school sponsored event?
An event that occurs outside of the enrolled single classroom and involves several members of the student body. Examples of school sponsored events include field days, spirit days, pep rallies, or other school celebrations.
5. Do the nutrition standards apply to classroom parties?
No, classroom parties – defined as a celebration that occurs within a given classroom and limited to only those students enrolled in that one classroom are not subject to the nutrition standards. Examples of classroom parties are holiday parties and birthday parties that occur in the classroom limited only to those enrolled students.
6. Can I bring treats for my child’s birthday?
Yes, with permission from the teacher and the principal at your child’s school. The District Wellness Policy requires that all food brought onto campus for classroom celebrations originates from commercial grocery or food service stores or other commercial kitchens certified to comply with Maricopa County Environmental Services regulations. Click here for a list of tips for healthy birthday celebrations.
7. What is considered a fundraiser?
A fundraiser is an event that includes any activity during which currency/tokens/ tickets, etc. are exchanged for the sale/purchase of a product in support of the school or school-related activities. For example, giving away food but suggesting a donation would be considered a fundraiser, since funds may be raised as a result. Another example may include a vending machine when the profits are used to support a school-sponsored club or activity such as the school band or football team.
8. Do the Smart Snacks in Schools Standards apply to all fundraisers?
All fundraisers held during the school day (the period from the midnight before, to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day) are required to meet the nutrition standards or obtain a waiver from the Arizona Department of Education. The only exception would be selling food items that are clearly not intended to be eaten immediately (i.e. frozen cookie dough). The sale of food items that meet the Smart Snacks in Schools Standards are not limited in any way. The standards do not apply during non-school hours, on weekends and at off campus fundraising events.
9. What guidelines apply to the fundraising waiver?
The intent of the fundraising waiver is to allow schools to conduct infrequent school sponsored fundraisers. Exempted fundraisers must be infrequent and must be a single event of duration not exceeding one week. It is important to note that exempted fundraiser foods or beverages may not be sold in competition with school meals in the food service area during the meal service per Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations. More information can be found at https://cms.azed.gov/home/GetDocumentFile?id=594d80163217e1042c271da8.
10. How do I request a fundraising waiver?
Schools with groups, clubs, or other organizations wishing to conduct school-sponsored fundraisers that involve the sale of foods or beverages that do not meet the Smart Snacks Standards may do so by submitting a waiver request to ADE. A school principal or designated representative of the school is permitted to submit the request online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FundraiserExemption or by contacting Health and Nutrition Services Division at 602-542-8700.
11. What kind of snacks can be served during standardized testing?
If snacks are purchased by the PTO or provided by the school for students during standardized testing, the items served must meet the Smart Snacks in Schools Standards. Snacks brought from home are not subject to these standards. Click here for a list of compliant snacks that can be ordered from the cafeteria manager at your school.
12. Traditionally, our PTO provided elementary school students with ice cream or other frozen treats to celebrate the end of the school year. Are we still allowed to do this?
Yes, as long as the item meets the Smart Snacks in School Standards. This would be considered a school sponsored event and the nutrition standards apply to foods sold or served to students in grades K-8. Click here for a list of compliant frozen treats or connect to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Smart Snacks Calculator to see if your item meets the nutrition standards.
13. How do the nutrition standards impact events like “Donuts with Dads” or “Muffins with Mom”?
If the event is held before or during school, the nutrition standards apply. Click here to see a list of healthy breakfast options that can be ordered from the Food and Nutrition Department or connect to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Smart Snacks Calculator to see if your item meets the nutrition standards.
14. Can we still have “Pizza with the Principal”?
Yes, “Pizza with the Principal” is typically held during the lunch period at elementary schools. Since the event is held during the school day, the nutrition standards do apply. The Food and Nutrition Department offers a low cost solution for these types of events. Please contact your cafeteria manager two weeks in advance to place an order for a pizza party that is in compliance with the nutrition standards.
15. Can we serve items such as sno-cones or popsicles at our school “Field Day” or other event during the school day?
You may serve 100% Fruit Juice Otter Pops (they MUST be the 100% juice kind). Sno-cones are only permitted if the specific product has been determined to meet the Smart Snacks in Schools Standards. Low-fat ice cream treats that meet the nutrition standards may be purchased from Shamrock Dairy or the Food and Nutrition Department. Click here to see a list of compliant frozen treats.
16. Can we sell Jamba Juice?
Jamba Juice smoothies are permitted if they are the “All Fruit Smoothies” in a 12 oz portion or less.
(Flavors include: Mega Mango, Peach Perfection, Pomegranate Paradise and Strawberry Whirl)
17. How do these standards impact food and beverages at sporting events that start before the end of the school day?
If a sporting event starts before the end of the school day, food and beverages sold or served to students in grades K-8 must meet the nutrition standards. Foods and beverages sold to students in grades 9-12 must meet the nutrition standards. Thirty minutes after the official school day, the nutrition standards no longer apply.
18. May popcorn qualify as a Smart Snack?
Popcorn is a whole grain and may be eligible as a smart snack provided it meets all applicable nutrition standards (≤200 calories, ≤200 mg sodium, ≤ 35% calories from fat, 0 grams trans fat, ≤ 35% calories from sugar) and the ingredient label lists the first ingredient as whole grain popcorn. There are many different types of popcorn available on the market, some with added fats and/or sugars, therefore the nutrition facts panel or product specifications must be checked to determine if a particular product meets the nutrition standards. Fresh popped popcorn with additional ingredients (such as butter and/or salt) must be included when determining if an item meets the nutritional standards.
19. What qualifies a product as being “whole grain rich”?
Foods that meet the whole grain rich criteria contain at least 51% whole grain flour and/or meal and the remaining grain must be enriched flour and/or meal. The simplest way to determine if a product is whole grain rich is to see if the first grain ingredient has the word “whole” in front of it (ex: whole wheat flour, whole cornmeal) or if the package displays an FDA approved whole-grain label claim. A product that lists “enriched flour” as the first ingredient would not qualify as “whole grain rich”.
20. What kind of food can I serve at a school carnival on the weekend?
If the carnival is held after school hours, the event is exempt from any nutrition standards. School-sponsored functions, such as carnivals must comply with Maricopa County Environmental Service regulations. A county special events permit must be obtained to operate public functions where food is served. Alternatively, schools may contract the services of the MPS Food and Nutrition Department, an outside vendor or caterer that has obtained all required permits. Please note that all volunteers will need to obtain a Volunteer Food Service Worker card or certificate from the Maricopa County Health Department.
21. Who is required to have a food handler’s certificate?
Anyone who is working at an event where food that is not prepackaged is sold or served (including popcorn, nachos, cookies, etc.) must have a food handler’s card or certificate.
22. Can I give treats to students for good behavior or academic achievement?
Mesa Public Schools District Wellness Policy encourages using non-food rewards to recognize students. Check with the School Site Council at your school for specific guidelines.
Click here for a list of non-food rewards.
23. Our PTO wants to provide cookies to celebrate the anniversary of our school, what type of cookies are we allowed to serve?
Cookies or other grain based items must be “whole grain rich” – at least 51% of the grain in the item must be a whole grain and the item must also meet calorie, fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugar limits. Contact your cafeteria manager to place an order for fresh baked cookies that meet the nutrition standards or connect to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Smart Snacks Calculator to see if your item meets the nutrition standards.