Nutritional Guidelines for food, beverages

Children who eat school lunches are more likely to consume milk, meats, grains and vegetables than students who bring lunch from home. They also tend to have higher nutrient intakes — both at lunch and over the course of an entire day. We make it a priority to ensure students get nutritious meals that fuel learning and physical activities. The Department serves more than 100,000 meals daily during the school year.

​​​​​​​Key facts

  • ​​The Department serves more than 100,000 meals every day at our schools.
  • All meals must meet USDA Dietary Guidelines (see below).
  • Lunch costs $2.50​ for grades Pre-K through 8, $2.75 for high school. The cost is $0.40 for students whose families qualify for reduced-price meals​.
  • Breakfast costs $1.10 for grades Pre-K through 8, $1.20 for high schoolers. The cost is $0.30 for students whose families qualify for reduced-price meals.


All foods and beverages sold or provided to students at school or school-sponsored events including fundraisers, vending machines, concession stands, a la carte, student stores, and school parties, must comply with the current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines. Exceptions can be made for food and beverage items provided at one-time privately catered events such as Prom or Winter Ball. Fundraising events are not exempt.

The following items are not provided to students anywhere at school or at school-sponsored functions:

  • Foods of minimal nutritional value as defined by USDA regulations,
  • All food and beverage items listing sugar, in any form, as the first ingredient, such as candy.
  • Foods containing artificial trans fats.

Dietary Guidelines

Current USDA guidelines for school meals are:


  • ½ -1 cup of fruit per day


  • ¾ - 1 cup of vegetables per day
  • Weekly requirement for: dark green, red/orange, beans/peas (legumes), starchy, other (as defined in 2010 Dietary Guidelines)

MEAT/ALTERNATE: Daily minimum and weekly ranges:

  • Grades K-5: 1 oz eq. min. daily (8-10 oz weekly)
  • Grades 6-8 : 1 oz eq. min. daily (9-10 oz weekly)
  • Grades 9-12 : 2 oz eq. min. daily (10-12 oz weekly)

GRAINS: All grains must be whole-grain rich. Daily minimum and weekly ranges:

  • Grades K-5: 1 oz eq. min. daily (8-9 oz weekly)
  • Grades 6-8 : 1 oz eq. min. daily (8-10 oz weekly)
  • Grades 9-12 : 2 oz eq. min. daily (10-12 oz weekly)
  • 1 cup daily, must be fat-free (unflavored/flavored) or 1% low fat (unflavored)

More information at the USDA website,


For a look at the carbohydrate count of meals served at schools click: 


After-school snacks served as part of the National School Lunch Program or the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) must meet USDA requirements.

All snack items sold or served to students anywhere at school or at school-sponsored functions, including items sold in ala carte lines and fundraisers or provided in classrooms, must meet the following criteria which are based on the Institute of Medicine standards per serving:

  • Calories ≤ 200
  • Total Fat ≤ 8 grams
    • With the exceptions of nuts and seeds
  • Saturated Fat ≤ 2 grams
  • Trans Fat ZERO
  • Sodium ≤ 200 mg
  • Sugar ≤ 8 grams
    • With the exceptions of 100% fruit and yogurt; having no more than 30 g of total sugars per 8-oz portion


Beverage options for all students include:

  • Water without flavoring, additives, or carbonation
  • Low-fat (1-percent) and nonfat milk in 8-oz. portions:
    • Lactose-free and soy beverages are included
    • Flavored milk with no more than 22 g of total sugar per 8-oz. portion
  • 100 percent fruit juice
    • 4-oz. portion for elementary/middle school
    • 8-oz. (two portions) for high school
  • Caffeine-free, with the exception of trace amounts of naturally occurring caffeine substances (e.g., chocolate milk) Beverage options for high school students after school only may include:
  • Non-caffeinated, non-fortified beverages with less than 5 calories per portion as packaged (with or without non-nutritive sweeteners, carbonation, or flavoring)
  • Sports drinks for student athletes participating in sport programs involving vigorous activity of more than one hour's duration


Approval of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (2010) brought numerous changes to USDA nutrition standards for school meals. New requirements include additional servings of fruit and vegetables, a greater variety of vegetables, and whole grains. All of the meals served in our public schools meet or exceed USDA nutrition standards. Click for a comparison of current and previous requirements for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Civil Rights Nondiscrimination Statement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at

Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Contact Information

Glenna Shim

Phone: 808-733-8400


Strategic Plan 2017-2020

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