Wellness Update: Smart Snacks, Fundraisers, and the USDA

The Nebraska Department of Education has released its state specific rules in compliance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. All boards must fully comply with the requirements of the final rule by June 30, 2017. The USDA has released a new requirement that all boards must have a Charged Meal Policy in place by July 1st , 2017. KSB Policy Service Subscribers will receive policy options on this new requirement in our School Meal Policy, but we’ll discuss it here since it’s in the Wellness Wheelhouse (trademark pending).

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

The new federal regulations focus on higher nutrition standards, more physical activity, and more community involvement. One question not answered by the federal regulations was whether or not food sold during fundraisers was exempt from the new wellness standards. The regulations leave that decision to the state education agencies.  NDE has decided not to issue an exemption. This means that all fundraiser items sold during the school day must follow the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards provided by the USDA.

Before you deliver this news to your school support groups and concessions stand operators, this only applies during the school day. Concession stands at student events and after-hours fundraisers are still permitted to stock delicious food items with little or no nutritional value. Even during the school day, fundraising items sold in bulk intended be consumed at home (e.g., tubs of cookie dough) are not subject to the Smart Snacks standard.

Of course individual schools are welcome to adopt a more stringent standard. Examples of policy language are available that offer the full “Carrots & Celery” policy, which bans birthday cupcakes, celebration snacks brought by parents, and general happiness. NDE has posted a webinar complete with sample policy wording, which can be found here. If you are a KSB Policy Service subscriber, we will be sending you a policy consistent with our philosophy which will give schools the maximum flexibility while still complying with the new legal requirements. Any board that would like a more robust and restrictive policy can contact us, and we would be happy to help you craft a custom policy.

USDA Charged Meal Policy Requirement

The new USDA requirement states that boards must have a published policy that details what the school will do in the event a student lacks funds to purchase a meal, has not brought a meal, and is not enrolled in a free meal program (AKA a “Charged Meal Policy”). The USDA does not dictate the policy specifics, only that each board have a published policy, even if their state has not created one. In our experience, every district has a practice on what happens when students don’t have enough money in their school meal accounts. This regulation now requires that this practice be written out in policy and approved by the board.

If you have additional questions about compliance with the Wellness Standards, or the new Charged Meal policy requirements, you should consult with your school district’s attorney, or call Karen, Steve, Bobby, or Tim.