The Connecticut State Department of Education's (CSDE) List of Acceptable Foods and Beverages includes brand-specific lists of commercial food products that comply with the Connecticut Nutrition Standards (CNS) and commercial beverages that comply with the beverage requirements of Section 10 -221q of the Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.). These foods and beverages also meet the USDA's Smart Snacks nutrition standards.
Public schools that choose to implement the healthy food option of Healthy Food Certification (HFC) under C.G.S. Section 10-215f must follow the CNS for all foods sold to students separately from reimbursable meals. The state beverage requirements (C.G.S. Section 10-221q) apply to all public schools, even if they do not choose the healthy food option of HFC or do not participate in the NSLP.
- Offer nutrient-rich foods: The CSDE strongly encourages schools to offer a la carte choices that include a variety of minimally processed and naturally nutrient-rich whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, lean meats, and legumes. Some listed products are not nutrient-rich foods. For example, baked chips are lower in fat than regular chips that do not meet the CNS, but neither product provides significant nutritional value.
- Product information: Only the specific product and serving size listed complies with the CNS or the state beverage statute. When purchasing products, check to be sure they match the exact description, serving size, nutrition information, and UPC code on the list. Product formulations and packaging can change. The information in the lists is based on the package label or manufacturer's information supplied at the time of product review. If the information on the list does not match the product's label or manufacturer's information, please submit the product’s information to the CSDE for review prior to purchasing. For more information, see the CSDE's document, Submitting New Products for Approval.
- Serving size: The lists include include individually packaged food and beverage products, and some bulk products that can be portioned into individual servings. Bulk foods cannot be served in a larger amount than the specified serving.
- Added accompaniments: The lists do not include any accompaniments added to the food, such as butter, margarine, cream cheese, jam, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, salad dressing, dipping sauce, and gravy. If a listed product will be served with an accompaniment, the school must determine if the nutrition information for both items together complies with the CNS. Examples include bagels with cream cheese, waffles with syrup, french fries with ketchup, and muffins with butter. For more information, see the CSDE's webpage, How to Evaluate Foods for CNS Compliance.
- Condiments: Condiments do not belong to any of the five CNS categories, and are not included on the lists. HFC public schools cannot sell condiments a la carte. Condiments cannot be sold with a food unless the serving of the food and condiment together complies with the CNS. For more information, see the CSDE's webpage, How to Evaluate Foods for CNS Compliance.
- Better Choice Recommendations: These optional additional standards help schools identify even better choices. They are located in the green and white columns on the right of each list. These recommendations vary depending on the food category, but generally include no artificial flavors or colors; no high fructose corn syrup; at least 2.5 grams of fiber (a “good” source of fiber as defined by the FDA); and 100 percent whole grain (applicable only to products containing grains). Foods that meet the Better Choice Recommendations are often less processed, and contain fewer ingredients.
- Searching a list: To search for specific foods, beverages, or manufacturers, open the appropriate list. On the toolbar, click on “edit” then “find,” and enter the information you would like to find.
- Submitting products: The CSDE encourages schools and vendors to submit new product information to the CSDE for evaluation. The handout, Submitting New Products for Approval, summarizes the information required to submit products for review.
- Updates: The CSDE updates the List of Acceptable Foods and Beverages webpage every few months. The handout, Summary of Recent List Updates, lists products that have been added or deleted since the last online update.
- Vendor contacts: The CSDE's Vendor Contact Information is a list of contact information for the manufacturers, brokers, and distributors that sell the foods and beverages listed on the CSDE's List of Acceptable Foods and Beverages.
List of Acceptable Foods and Beverages
- List 1: Chips, popcorn, rice cakes, puffed snacks
- List 2: Crackers, pita chips, hard pretzels, snack mix
- List 3: Cookies and Bars (e.g., granola/cereal bars, animal/graham crackers)
- List 4: Bakery Producs (e.g., waffles, pancakes, soft pretzels, muffins, rolls, bagels)
- List 5: Breakfast Cereals (cold ready-to-eat cereal and cooked hot cereal, e.g., oatmeal)
- List 6: Nuts, Seeds, and Jerky (including nut/seed butters, soy nuts, trail mix)
- List 7: Yogurt and Pudding
- List 8: Cheese (low-fat or reduced-fat natural cheese)
- List 9: Smoothies (made with low-fat yogurt and fruits/vegetables/100 percent juice)
- List 10: Frozen Desserts (e.g., ice cream, ice cream novelties, frozen fruit/juice bars)
- List 11: Fruits and Vegetables (individually packaged fresh, frozen, canned, dried)
- List 12: Soups (ready-to-serve, condensed, frozen)
- List 13: Non-entree Combination Foods (contain more than one food component)
- List 14: Entrees (sold only a la carte)
- List 15: Cooked Grains (e.g., pasta, rice, quinoa, bulgur)
- List 16: Beverages – Milk (low-fat unflavored and fat-free unflavored or flavored)
- List 17: Beverages – Dairy Alternatives, e.g., soy milk
- List 18: Beverages – 100% Juice (carbonated and noncarbonated)
- List 19: Beverages – 100% Juice Frozen Slush
- List 20: Beverages – Water with Juice (carbonated and noncarbonated)
- List 21: Beverages – Water (carbonated and noncarbonated)