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​School Food Authorities (SFA) must offer nutritious, well-balanced, and age-appropriate meals to all children they serve to improve their diets and safeguard their health. Federal regulations outlined in 7 CFR 210.10 and 7 CFR 220.8 set forth meal requirements for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP), respectively. SFAs must follow a food-based menu planning approach in which meals are provided that meet the required meal components in the specified quantities for each age/grade group served. Meals must also meet dietary specifications for calories, sodium, and saturated fat.

Section C (Menu Planning & Meal Pattern Requirements)PDF Document of ISBE’s School Nutrition Programs Administrative Handbook details these requirements.

USDA’s Transitional Standards for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium take effect July 1, 2022. These standards are intended to be temporary and in effect for only two school years (SY 2022-23 & SY 2023-24) in order to provide immediate relief to schools during the return to traditional school meal service following extended use of COVID-19 meal pattern flexibilities.

 Smart Snacks in Schools Standards

​Participants in the NSLP and/or SBP are required to follow standards for all foods and beverages sold outside of or in addition to the reimbursable meal. These foods and beverages must meet the standards below. These standards apply during the school day anywhere on school campus that is accessible to students. A school day is defined as the midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the school day.

Fundraising: Smart Snacks Standards also apply to fundraisers held on the school campus during the school day, except on exempted fundraising days. Approved exempted fundraising days allow for the sale of food and beverage items that do not meet Smart Snacks standards. Grades 9-12 are limited to no more than nine exempted fundraising days per school year. Exempted fundraising days are prohibited for grades 8 and below.

 Menu Planning Tools

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