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Wellness FAQs

These FAQs were compiled from questions received by APS schools and the NM Public Education Department's Nutrition and Wellness Policy to help clarify the requirements of NM Competitive Food Sales Rule.

Nutrition

Why was the NM Competitive Food Sale and Wellness Policy Rules established?

The purpose of the Nutrition: Competitive Food Sales Rule is to help ensure that students, when sold food or beverages produced on the school campus, have healthy choices among the products sold.

The Nutrition: Competitive Food Sales Rule has been established based on the directive given in House Bill (HB) 61 of the 2005 legislative session. HB 61 charged the PED, in collaboration with others, to adopt a rule governing foods and beverages sold in all public schools to students outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) school meal programs.

The Wellness Policy Rule was established based on a federal requirement from the USDA. The USDA requires that all school districts that receive federal USDA funds shall have a local wellness policy around student nutrition and physical activity by the start of the school year following June 30, 2006. The PED has established a rule that requires all public school districts to have wellness policies and that these policies will include components related to a coordinated school health approach. The rule requires a local school district to establish a School Health Advisory Council (SHAC).

What are the specific requirements for foods and beverages sold through
vending, a la carte and fund raisers in elementary, middle and high schools?

This depends on the venue and school level. Refer to the USDA Summary Fact Sheet for more information identifying food/beverages that meet federal, state, and district regulations.

How do I know what my group can sell (i.e. DECA, PTA, band booster, etc)?

  • The USDA Smart Snack Guideline does not dictate what any particular group can or cannot sell, rather it governs food/beverages sold to students on school campus. The group selling the food/beverage must determine the time of day, grade level standard and/or avenue (vending machine, a la carte or fundraiser) in which the food or beverage product is sold.
  • Food or beverage products that are sold in a vending machine must meet the requirements set in the rule by grade level and the time of day in which the product is available to be sold. For example: Only plain water, (any size) unflavored low-fat milk, flavored or unflavored non-fat milk (8 fl. oz.) and 100% fruit/vegetable juice (8 fl. oz.) can be sold to middle school students after the last lunch period. There are no vending machines in elementary schools.
  • Food or beverage entrée-type products that are sold during lunch and are not part of the USDA school lunch program (i.e. Food & Nutrition Service snack bar and DECA) must meet the requirements for a la carte sales – this does not differ by grade level. They must also have a City food permit for such sales.
  • Food or beverage entrée-type products that are sold during lunch and are not part of the USDA school lunch program (i.e. Food & Nutrition Service snack bar and DECA) must meet the requirements for a la carte sales – this does not differ by grade level. They must also have a City Food Permit for such sales.
  • Food or beverage products that are sold during the school day that are neither part of the USDA school meal program or a la carte sales may not be sold during the lunch period and must meet the requirements for fund raisers during normal school hour by grade level.
  • Food or beverage products that are sold before or after school on school campus (i.e. sports concession stands that are held on school campus, elementary school carnivals, etc.) must meet the requirements for fundraisers outside of normal school hours – this does not differ by grade level. All beverages sold on campus during and/or after school hours must be Pepsi products due to the exclusive beverage contract.

Do the NM Competitive Food Sales Rule guidelines apply to the school meals?

School meals (i.e.: school breakfast and lunch) are not governed by the USDA Smart Snacks Guideline because they are required to meet nutritional standards established by the US Department of Agriculture. However, the snack bars run by APS Food & Nutrition Services fall under the category of “a la carte” and must follow the same nutrition standards as all snack bars/a la carte sales on campus.

What does our district wellness policy say about classroom parties and snacks?

The USDA Smart Snack Guidelines set standards for foods and beverages sold to students. APS policy and procedures does not address classroom parties or snacks. However, schools are encouraged to look at the types of foods and beverages offered to students and consider healthier alternatives.

I have a vendor I work with and would like to sell products in our DECA store. How do I get them on bid?

All food and beverage vendors working with DECA must be approved by APS Procurement office according to procurement procedure. If a food item you would like to sell or a vendor you would like to work with is not on the DECA bid list, contact APS Procurement, Melissa Sanchez at 345-5661 ext. 38241.

Fundraisers

What is considered a fundraiser?

USDA considers a fundraiser to be an event that includes any activity during which currency/tokens/tickets, etc. are exchanged for the sale/purchase of a product in support of the school or school-related activities. For example, giving away food but suggesting a donation would be considered a fundraiser since funds will be raised as a result. Purchasing tickets or tokens to be exchanged later for food items would also be considered to be a sale of food and/or a fundraiser and would be subject to the Smart Snacks standards.

What does the 50% healthy fundraising in the Nutrition Rule mean in practice?

The USDA Smart Snack Guidelines states that beverages and food products may be sold as fundraisers outside of normal school hours for elementary, middle and high schools provided that at least 50% of the offerings meet specific requirements. For example, if soda is offered as a choice in an on campus concession stand then water should be offered also. All beverages sold on campus during and/or after school hours must be Pepsi products (exclusive beverage contract).

Is it true that no food can be sold as fundraisers during lunches at elementary, middle and high schools?

No food/beverages shall be sold in the cafeteria buy may sell outside the area where the cafeteria is located as long all food/beverages meet the USDA Smart Snack Guidelines.

Can schools still have breakfasts or dinners sponsored by clubs/groups to benefit the school? How would they need to alter the menu?

The USDA Smart Snack Guideline addresses the sale of competitive food sold to students on campus. A school day is referred as the time between 12:01 a.m. until 30 minutes after the last bell. A breakfast sponsored by a club would not be allowed unless the a la carte food items meet the USDA Smart Snack Guidelines. If the meals are not targeted as sales on school campus or are not available to students on campus it would not be governed by the rule. On-campus meal fundraisers after school hours that target students fall under the 50% fundraiser rule, so half of the items offered would need to meet the specific nutrition requirements. For example, to ensure compliance if organizing an enchilada dinner, offer beans, rice or a salad to balance out the meal.

How does the rule apply to outside vendors/ organizations doing fundraising?

If the vendor or organization is selling food or beverage products to students on school campus they must comply with the rules for the time of day in which they are selling and for the grade level. Please see APS Procedural Directive.

Are clubs/groups selling sport drinks during lunch fundraising or a la carte sales?

Sports drinks may not be sold to elementary and middle school students (unless it is school's exemption fundraising day). They may only be sold: 1). in high school vending machines or 2). High School Snack bars (DECA, activities group).  The sports drinks must not exceed 12 oz.

My PTA wants to do a fundraiser with only cookie dough. Under the USDA Smart Snacks Guidelines, are they able to still do that?

Yes. Since this is an off-campus fundraiser outside of school hours, it is not governed by the USDA Smart Snacks Guidelines.

What are the rules for a Fall Festival after school hours in terms of food sales? Can we sell things like sodas, Frito Pie, hot dogs and Nachos?

Since this is an after-school event, the food sales must meet the 50% healthy fundraising rule. Provided that at least 50% of the offerings meet the specific nutrition requirements for fundraisers, then the food items mentioned above are allowed. All beverages sold on campus after hours must be a Pepsi product (exclusive beverage contract).

What are the rules for a fiesta during school hours? We don’t sell food but give students hot dogs and a soda. Is this alright?

Since the USDA Smart Snacks only applies to food and beverages sold to students, this is allowed. However, schools are strongly encourages to offer healthier snack alternatives (such as fruit and bottled water) in the spirit of supporting wellness for all school events.

I have noticed that candy is regularly used as a reward for good grades on assignments and quizzes/tests at my kid’s school. Is this within the new rules?

Using food as a reward is not restricted under APS policy. However, recognizing this is a common practice with disadvantages; schools are encouraged to reward students with non-food items.

Baseball and Softball teams at my school have a snack bar they sell stuff out of at games. Are they limited in what they can sell at games?

Yes. This is considered a fundraiser outside of school hours and must follow the 50% healthy fundraising rule. All beverages sold on campus during or after hours must be a Pepsi product due to the exclusive beverage contract.

Our elementary school stopped selling sodas and sweet snacks. But we did understand that selling pickles after lunch was okay. Is this true?

Competitive food/beverage sales at the elementary school level must meet USDA Smart Snack Guidelines during school hours which is defined as 12:01am-until 30 minutes after the last bell rings. The only beverages allowed for the elementary level is plain water and unflavored low-fat milk and flavored fat-free milk.

Does the district policy include what snacks students bring from home?

No it does not. This is something we cannot regulate. However, schools can educate parents and suggest ideas for healthy snacks and lunches through school newsletters, handouts, and presentations.

Where do activities after school hours where refreshments are served (such as Family Math Night and PTA meetings with students performing) fit in the nutrition rule?

Since these are events after-school hours that do not sell food or beverages to students, they do not fall under the USDA Smart Snacks Guidelines. However, schools are encouraged to offer healthy foods and beverages at all school events to support wellness.

Is it true that all food brought onto school campus must be purchased at a store, individually wrapped, and have nutrition labels on the package? What is the policy is for bringing homemade food to sell at the school as part as a fundraiser?

  • According to the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, food products sold at school fundraisers must be individually wrapped with a listing of ingredients provided to avoid potential allergic reactions. For example, a baked good sold should not be on a platter for anyone to grab, but individually packaged in some way. For homemade goods, the ingredients or recipe should be attached.
  • School food fundraisers also require a CABQ food permit.
  • According to the CABQ Environmental Health Dept. homemade food, such as green chile stew, is not allowed to be sold to students on school campus.

The APS Procedural Directive states, "Any entity selling a la carte items in schools shall be required to obtain food license permit for the sale of any non-packaged foods or beverages."

May popcorn qualify as a Smart Snack?

 Popcorn is a whole grain and may be eligible as a smart snack, provided it meets all applicable standards. The ingredient label must list the first ingredient as popcorn to meet the general standard. There are many different types of popcorn available on the market, some with added fats and/or sugars, therefore, the nutrition facts panel or product specifications must be checked to determine if the product meets the nutrition standards.

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