In 2004, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) implemented a much more restrictive policy on foods that are provided to students. The policy is aggressively enforced and schools found to have violated the policy will lose a day of meal reimbursement funds from the state and will be required to reimburse the food service account for the lost reimbursement. The policy applies to foods of minimal nutritional value (FMNV), and any type of candy and also restricts the provision of “competitive foods,” which are all foods and beverages not provided by school food services. The policy also limits the number of grams of fat and sugar Texas schoolchildren are served each week, restricts portion sizes for items such as chips, cookies, frozen desserts and beverages, and calls for phasing out deep-fat frying in schools. Nutrition policy exemptions allow for such events as birthday parties, pizza parties and classroom snacks (see the Exemptions section on facing page for details). The full Texas Public School Nutrition policy is available on the Texas Department of Agriculture Web site at www.squaremeals.org. Policy highlights include:

 

Policy

Elementary Schools

(a campus containing a combination of grades early elementary to 6)

Middle/Junior High Schools

(a campus containing grades 6, 7 and 8; grades 7 and 8; or grades 7, 8 and 9)

High Schools

(a campus containing a combination of grades 9, 10, 11 and 12)

FMNV

Soda water

Water ices

Chewing gum

Certain candies

(see www.squaremeals.org for more details and list of USDA exemptions)

Not allowed at any time during the school day.

(certain exemptions are allowed for school nurses, students with special needs and up to three schoolwide events pre-approved by campus officials)

Not allowed until after the last lunch period.

(certain exemptions are allowed for school nurses, students with special needs and up to three schoolwide events pre-approved by campus officials)

Not allowed during meal periods in areas where reimbursable meals are served and consumed.

CANDY

(including candy bars and packaged candies not included as FMNVs)

Not allowed at any time during the school day.

(certain exemptions are allowed for students with special needs and up to three schoolwide events pre-approved by campus officials)

Not allowed until after the last lunch period.

(certain exemptions are allowed for students with special needs and up to three schoolwide events pre-approved by campus officials)

Allowed.

CARBONATED BEVERAGES

Not allowed at any time during the school day.

Not allowed until after the last lunch period.

Sugared, carbonated beverages cannot be sold in containers larger than 12 oz. and are not allowed during meal periods in areas where reimbursable meals are served and consumed. By the 2005-06 school year, no more than 30 percent of beverages in vending machines should be sugared, carbonated drinks.

COMPETITIVE FOODS

(all food and beverages that are not provided by school food service)

Not allowed at any time during the school day.

(see exemptions listed below)

Not allowed during meal periods.

Not allowed during meal periods in areas where reimbursable meals are served and consumed.

 

Nutrition Policy Exemptions

Where & When

Nutrition Policy

Classroom birthday parties

Foods otherwise restricted by the policy are permitted at student birthday parties. It is recommended that such parties be scheduled after the end of the last lunch period so that these celebrations will not replace a nutritious lunch. Federal regulations do not permit FMNV to be served in the food service area during meal periods.

Pizza parties, etc.

With the exception of school birthday parties, schools may not allow alternative meals (pizza, BBQ, sandwiches, etc.) to be provided to students in competition with meals made available by the school food service department under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. However, such items may be provided if they are supplemented with additional food provided by food service to become a reimbursable meal. This allows the addition of fruits and vegetables for a complete nutritious meal, as well as providing federal reimbursement funds to the school.

School Events

Students may be given FMNV, candy items or other restricted foods during the school day for up to three different events each school year to be determined by campus. The exempted events must be approved by a school official. During these events, FMNV may not be given during meal times in the areas where school meals are being served or consumed, and regular meal service (breakfast and lunch) must continue to be available to all students in accordance with federal regulations.

Elementary School Classroom Snacks

Elementary classrooms may serve one nutritious snack per day in the morning or afternoon (not during lunchtime) under the teacher’s guidance. The snack must comply with the fat and sugar limits of the Public School Nutrition Policy and may not contain any FMNV or consist of candy, chips or dessert type items (cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pudding, ice cream or frozen desserts, etc.). The classroom snack may be provided by the school food service, the teacher, parents or other groups and should be at no cost to students. See below for TDA nutritious snack ideas.

Snacks for TAKS Test Days

Schools and parents may provide one additional nutritious snack per day for students taking the TAKS tests. The snack must comply with the fat and sugar limits of the Public School Nutrition Policy and may not contain any FMNV or consist of candy, chips or dessert type items (cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pudding, ice cream or frozen desserts, etc.). See below for TDA nutritious snack ideas.

Field Trips

Campus-approved field trips are exempt from nutrition policy.

Athletic, UIL, Band and Other Competitions

The nutrition policy does not apply to students who leave campus to travel to athletic, UIL, band or other competitions. The school day is considered to have ended for these students. School activities, athletic functions, etc., that occur after the normal school day are not covered by the policy.

Fund-raising activities

For middle and high school campuses, the nutrition policy will apply to food fund-raising during the school day. No food fund-raising will be allowed on an elementary school campus during the school day; however, schools or school-approved organizations may take orders or sell vouchers during the school day for candy or other restricted items and deliver these items after the end of the school day. Students may order or purchase such items during the school day as long as they receive the items after the school day ends.

 

Suggestions for nutritious snacks from the TDA

Fruit juice; Fruit smoothie; Milk, non-fat or low-fat (plain or flavored); Bagel (1/2); Graham crackers; Animal crackers; Wheat crackers; English muffin (whole wheat); Rice cakes and mini rice cakes, flavored; Fig bars; Fruit or grain muffin (low-fat); Dry cereal, individual servings; Pretzels; Baked tortilla chips with salsa; Vanilla wafers; Fresh seasonal fruit; Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower with low-fat dip or salad dressing; Fruit snacks; Low-fat string cheese; Fruit/grain bars; Frozen fruit bars; 94 percent fat-free popcorn; Fruit, nut and/or grain trail mixes; Peanut butter & crackers; Fruit pico; Corn on cob with paprika or chili powder.

Wellness policy: As of July 1, 2006, each school district participating in school nutrition programs authorized by the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 is required to have a Wellness Policy in place, which includes goals for nutrition education, physical activity and nutrition guidelines, and a plan for measuring implementation of such policy. Further information on this requirement may be accessed on the TDA Web site at www.squaremeals.org.

Frequently asked questions

How is a "school day" defined?

The school day is defined as beginning with the start of the first breakfast period until the end of the last instruction period of the day (last bell). School activities, athletic functions, etc., that occur after the normal school day are not covered by this policy. If a school operates the federally funded After School Snack Program, the policy will be in effect until this concludes for the day.

Which school-level policy should K-12 schools follow?

K-12 schools may follow the policy requirements for middle/junior high schools.

Does this policy prohibit school teachers from using competitive foods as an instructional tool in the classroom?

School teachers may use food for instructional purposes as long as the food items are not considered FMNVs or candy.

Do these nutrition standards apply to fund raising?

For middle school and high school campuses, the nutrition standards will apply to food fund raising during the school day. No food fund raising will be allowed on an elementary school campus during the school day. A list of non-food fund-raising ideas is available on the TDA Web site at www.squaremeals.org.

Any questions or concerns regarding the Texas Public School Nutrition policy may be directed to the TDA, Food and Nutrition Division, P.O. Box 12847, Austin, TX 78711 or call toll-free at 888-TEX-KIDS.