National Standards and Guidelines

Nutrition Standards for School Meals Program


Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by the First Lady and signed by President Obama, USDA made the first major changes in school meals in 15 years. View the regulations, supporting documents, and technical assistance materials here.

Smart Snacks in School


This Web page includes information on the new Smarts Snacks in School nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, as well as summaries, simple handouts, and other technical assistance and guidance materials to help schools offer healthy food and beverage choices.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020)

USDA. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the cornerstone of Federal nutrition policy and nutrition education activities. The recommendations are intended for Americans ages 2 years and over, including those at risk for chronic disease.

School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (September 2011)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC combined the research and best practices for promoting healthy eating and physical activity in schools into nine guidelines. The guidelines serve as the foundation for developing, implementing, and evaluating school-based healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices for students.

Fit, Healthy, and Ready to Learn: Chapter E: Policies to Promote Healthy Eating (2005)

National Association of State Boards of Education.

This guide contains recent scientific data, analysis, examples of state and local best practices, and evidence-based model policies that can be adapted by schools, districts, and states. The guides also cover a wide array of topics, such as what makes a quality school meals program, creating a healthy eating environment throughout the school, prevention education, and nutrition-related school services.

Check out these additional resources for making healthy school meal choices:
                        • Requirements and Nutrition Standards – Check out these resources to make sure your school meals are meeting federal requirements and national standards.
                        • School Breakfast Program – Find resources for starting a School Breakfast Program or enhancing existing options.
                        • Taste-Testing - Taste testing empowers students to make decisions about what is served, and often helps them change their food choices. Find evaluation forms and other tools to help conduct taste tests in your program.
                        • Tools for Schools - A one-stop guide that helps schools offer healthier and appealing meals and snacks that meet national nutrition standards.