Mass in Motion: Improving school nutrition

Learn about school nutrition regulations.
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Nutrition standards for schools

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, developed nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages sold or made available in public schools. In December 2014, the Massachusetts standards were revised to more closely align with USDA federal standards for competitive foods and beverages. All standards apply to foods and beverages sold or provided in:

  • School cafeterias offered as à la carte items
  • Vending machines (must comply at all times)
  • School stores and snack bars

The Massachusetts standards for competitive foods and beverages do not apply to foods and beverages sold as part of a federal nutrition program such as the School Breakfast Program, School Lunch Program, or the Child and Adult Care Food Program, all of which follow USDA national guidelines. The current regulations can be found on the School Nutrition Standards page.

An easy reference guide to the updated standards can be found at Massachusetts Competitive Foods and Beverages "At a Glance" Chart (DOC).

Every five years, the Department of Public Health conducts a review of the nutritional standards and submits a report on the findings to the Massachusetts Legislature. Read the latest report here:

The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University also maintains a list of accepted foods and beverages and offers a variety of online child nutrition and wellness resources on the John C. Stalker Institute website.

School districts have the discretion to go beyond the standards and establish local policies that apply to all settings and/or all times to promote a healthy school environment throughout the entire day. For example, schools may determine if the standards apply to classroom lessons and parties. For more helpful resources on creating healthy nutrition environments in schools, please check out the following links:


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