Connecticut Nutrition Standards

How To

Evaluate Foods for CNS Compliance

Public schools that choose the healthy food option of HFC under Section 10-215f of the Connecticut General Statutes must follow the CNS for all foods sold to students separately from reimbursable school meals. The CNS applies to all sources of food sales on school premises at all times, such as cafeteria a la carte sales, school stores, vending machines, fundraisers, culinary programs, and any other sources of food sales. Schools must determine that food items comply with the CNS before selling them to students. For information on the requirements for fundraisers, review the CSDE's handout, Food and Beverage Requirements for Fundraisers.

Note: The evaluation of a food for compliance with the CNS is based on the food item as served, including any added accompaniments such as butter, cream cheese, syrup, ketchup, mustard, and salad dressing. For example, if a bagel is served with cream cheese, the nutrition information per serving must include the combined amount of nutrients for both foods. Other examples include salad with dressing; vegetables, rice, or pasta with added fat (e.g., oil, butter, or margarine) and salt; soup with grated cheese; chicken nuggets with dipping sauce; mashed potatoes with gravy; french fries with ketchup; egg rolls with duck sauce; and pancakes with syrup. The nutrition information of an accompaniment can be determined using the average portion served with the food. Documentation of this information must be maintained on file.

Commercially Prepared Foods  |   Foods Made from Scratch  |   CNS Worksheets


Commercially Prepared Foods

Schools must use the CSDE’s List of Acceptable Foods and Beverages to identify commercial foods that meet the CNS and commercial beverages that meet the requirements of state statute (C.G.S. Section 10-221q). Please submit the nutrition information for new products to the CSDE for review. The handout, Submitting Foods and Beverage Products for Approval, summarizes the information needed by the CSDE to review foods and beverages for compliance with the state requirements. 

Foods Made from Scratch

Before selling foods made from scratch to students, schools must ensure that the recipe’s serving (including added accompaniments) complies with the applicable CNS food category. Schools must complete the documentation below for each recipe, and maintain on file for the annual HFC documentation review.

  1. Standardized recipe with nutrition information per serving:  Foods made from scratch must have a standardized recipe that indicates the nutrition information per serving for calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and sugars. A standardized recipe has been tried, adapted, and retried several times for use by a given foodservice operation; and has been found to produce the same good results and yield every time when the exact procedures are used with the same type of equipment, and the same quantity and quality of ingredients. Standardized quantity recipes produce 25 or more servings.
    • If the recipe does not include nutrition information, or any nutrients are missing, the school must conduct a nutrient analysis to determine the recipe's nutrition information per serving. This information can be determined using a nutrient analysis software program, or calculated manually using the CSDE’s CNS Worksheet 9: Nutrient Analysis of Recipes.
    • For guidance on developing standardized recipes, visit the Standardized Recipes section of the CSDE's Crediting Foods in School Nutrition Programs webpage.
  2. Completed CSDE CNS worksheet for the applicable CNS food category: This document is required to determine if the recipe complies with the CNS. The recipe’s nutrition information per serving (including any added accompaniments such as butter, cream cheese, syrup, ketchup, mustard, and salad dressing) must be entered into the appropriate CSDE worksheet for the CNS food category (see CNS worksheets 1-8 below).      

These documentation requirements apply to the two categories of foods below.

  • Foods prepared from scratch using a recipe: Examples include entrees sold only a la carte (not as part of reimbursable NSLP and SBP meals), e.g., pizza, chef’s salad, and chicken nuggets; soups; cooked grains such as rice and pasta with added fat (e.g., oil, margarine, or butter) and salt; cooked vegetables with added fat (e.g., oil, margarine, or butter) and salt; salad with dressing; fruit smoothies; and baked goods such as muffins and cookies. Note: A nutrient analysis is not required for entrees that are sold as part of reimbursable NSLP and SBP meals and also sold a la carte at the same meal on the same day. These entrees are exempt from the CNS. This exemption applies only to the three categories of main dish entree items as defined by the CNS.

  • Foods with other ingredients added after purchasing: Examples include popping popcorn kernels in oil; assembling a sandwich; making muffins from a mix and adding butter and eggs; adding butter to rice and pasta; adding dressing to salad; and adding sprinkles to commercial frozen cookie dough. Schools must create a recipe for these foods based on the specific amount of each ingredient, and conduct a nutrient analysis to determine the nutrition information per serving.

CNS Worksheets

These worksheets evaluate foods and recipes for CNS compliance.

serving (including added accompaniments)