State and National School Snack Policies
How they compare
Half of secondary school students consume at least one snack food a day at school. Yet vending machines and snack bars in many schools have historically offered an abundance of candy, sugar-filled drinks, and other low-nutrient, high-calorie items rather than healthy snacks.
Currently, 43 states have policies determining the types of snacks that schools may sell to students. However, these policies vary widely in content and strength; seven of these states, for example, have only suggested guidelines.
Few states have standards as strong as those issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These Smart Snacks in Schools standards took effect in the 2014-15 school year and are helping to drive healthy changes nationally by applying consistent minimum nutrition standards to snack items sold to students during the school day. Food and drinks in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria menus now cannot exceed limits on fat, salt, and calories.
The following fact sheets and data tables compare the snack food and beverage policies of each state and the District of Columbia with the USDA’s standards. These resources can help state and district stakeholders understand how close their policies are to the national standards and which state policies set an even healthier bar for snacks.
States should compare their policies to the USDA guidelines and put in place the strongest components of each. Additionally, state child nutrition agencies should adopt policies and procedures that ensure effective implementation of the Smart Snacks standards, such as providing:
- Technical assistance and training to schools and districts.
- Opportunities for collaboration and sharing of best practices with other districts in the state.
- Clear guidance on the number of fundraisers per year that each school may exempt from the standards.
- A plan for addressing how schools will be held accountable for meeting the USDA’s Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards.
To learn more, visit our collection of resources about Smart Snacks in Schools.
The state policies highlighted are those that were in place as of August 2014, which may have since been updated.
State snack foods and beverages fact sheets
Select a state below for a summary of the state's policy and USDA’s Smart Snacks in Schools standards.
State snack foods and beverages data tables
Forty-three states have policies determining the kinds of snack foods and beverages that can be sold to students. Select a state below to compare specific requirements in the state’s policy with USDA’s standards.