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Back-to-School Nutrition Guidelines *UPDATED 2023*

Updated by: Lisa Li, RD

Kids are back to school after the long summer break. Have you ever paid attention to what kinds of foods or snacks items that your child can get besides school lunch at school? Are you wondering what kind of snacks are best for your child to bring to school or to consume after school?

The Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is intended to provide guidance for the nutritional content and availability of competitive foods (a la carte items during school meals or in school snack bars, vending machines or canteens). The standards also apply to foods and beverages provided during school activities, such as classroom parties, celebrations, fundraisers or meetings. As parents, we can also utilize these guidelines to plan our snacks for our kids after school or in between meals.

Foods and Beverages Recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s that may be offered to students in all grades at all times of day:

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, combination products, fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, lactose-free and soy beverages


• Individual fruits—apples, pears, oranges

• Fruit cups packed in juice or water

• Vegetables—baby carrots, broccoli, edamame

• Dried or dehydrated fruits—raisins, apricots, cherries

• 8 fl oz 100% fruit juice or low-sodium 100% vegetable juice

• Low-fat, low-salt, whole-grain crackers or chips

• Whole-grain, low-sugar cereals

• 100% whole-grain mini bagels

• 8-oz servings of low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt with ≤30 g of total sugars

• 8-oz servings of low-fat or nonfat chocolate or strawberry milk with ≤28 g of total sugars

• Low-sodium, whole-grain bars containing sunflower seeds, almonds, or walnuts

Examples of Items that Do NOT Meet the Standards:

• Potato chips or pretzels that have too much sugar or salt (i.e., exceeding the values listed above)

• Cheese crackers that have too much fat or sodium

• Breakfast or granola bars that have too much fat or sugar

• Ice cream products that have too much fat or sugar

• Cake, cupcakes, or cookies with too much sugar or salt

• Fortified sports drinks or fortified water

• Gum, licorice, or candy

• Fruit smoothies with added sugar

• Regular colas or sodas with sugar or caffeine

If you want more information regarding these guidelines, please feel free to email us at [].


Interested in learning about weight goal and nutrition needs? Schedule a free body weight and % body fat analysis with our Smart Eater Dietitians at 626-283-5128 or email


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