Section 10-221q of the Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) governs beverages sold to students in public schools. It applies to beverages sold as part of school meals and separately from school meals anywhere on school premises at all times, such as cafeteria sales, school stores, vending machines, fundraisers, and any other locations where beverages are sold.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Smart Snacks nutrition standards apply to beverages sold to students separately from school meals during the school day on school premises, such as cafeteria a la carte sales, school stores, vending machines, fundraisers, and any other locations where beverages are sold. It applies to public schools, private schools, and residential child care institutions (RCCIs) that participate in the USDA's school nutrition programs, e.g., National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program SBP), Afterschool Snack Program (ASP), and Special Milk Program (SMP).
Public schools must comply with Smart Snacks and the stricter provisions of Connecticut’s beverage statute. All schools (public and private) and institutions that participate in the USDA's school nutrition programs must also comply with the state competitive foods regulations (Sections 10-215b-1 and 10-215b-23).
Beverage Requirements for Public Schools
Public school districts include the Connecticut Technical High School System, charter schools, interdistrict magnet schools, and endowed academies. All public schools must comply with the Smart Snacks beverage standards and the stricter provisions of the state beverage statute. The state beverage statute applies to all public schools, regardless of whether they choose the healthy food option of Healthy Food Certification (HFC) under C.G.S. Section 10-215f or participate in the USDA school nutrition programs.
The requirements below include the stricter provisions of the state beverage statute and Smart Snacks beverage standards.
- Milk, low-fat (1%) unflavored and nonfat flavored or unflavored with no more than 4 grams of sugar per ounce and no artificial sweeteners.
- Nondairy milk substitutes such as soy or rice milk (flavored or unflavored), that meet the USDA nutrition standards for nutritionally equivalent milk alternatives and contain no artificial sweeteners, no more than 4 grams of sugar per fluid ounce, no more than 35 percent of calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat. For information on the USDA’s nutrition standards for fluid milk substitutes, see the CSDE’s handout, Allowable Milk Substitutes for Children without Disabilities.
- 100 percent juice (fruit, vegetable or combination), containing no added sugars, sweeteners (including nonnutritive sweeteners) or artificial sweeteners.
- Beverages that contain only water and juice, with no added sugars, sweeteners (including nonnutritive sweeteners) or artificial sweeteners, and that meet the requirements specified in Requirements for Beverages Containing Water and Juice; and
- Water (plain or carbonated), which may be flavored but contains no added sugars, sweeteners (including nonnutritive sweeteners), artificial sweeteners or caffeine. NOTE: Water sold in elementary and middle schools must be unflavored. Water sold in high schools may be flavored or unflavored.
Portion sizes cannot exceed 8 fluid ounces for elementary schools and 12 fluid ounces for middle and high schools, with the exception of water, which is unlimited.
Prohibited beverages include soda (regular and diet), sports drinks (regular, low-calorie and zero calorie), hot chocolate (regular, low-calorie and sugar-free), energy drinks, sweetened beverages (with or without carbonation) that are not 100 percent juice such as lemonade and fruit punch drinks made with 10 percent juice, and any other beverages that do not comply with state statute. Beverages that do not comply with state statute can only be sold to students on school premises if the board of education or school governing authority votes to allow exemptions, and the beverages:
- are sold after the school day or on the weekend (the school day is the period from midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day);
- are sold at the location of an event; and
- are not sold from a vending machine or school store.
Beverages that do not comply with the requirements of state statute can never be sold in vending machines or school stores. For more information on beverage exemptions, see the CSDE's handout, Exemptions for Foods and Beverages in Public Schools.
Beverage Requirements for Private Schools and RCCIs
Private schools and RCCIs that participate in the USDA school nutrition programs must comply with the USDA Smart Snacks nutrition standards for all beverages sold to students separately from reimbursable meals during the school day (the period from the midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day). Beverage sales must also comply with the state competitive foods regulations (Sections 10-215b-1 and 10-215b-23).