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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.

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.

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