Connecticut Nutrition Standards


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Healthy Food Certification |  Beverage Requirements |  List of Acceptable Foods and Beverages


The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) developed the Connecticut Nutrition Standards (CNS) in response to Section 10-215e of the Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.), which required the CSDE to publish a set of nutrition standards for foods offered for sale to students separately from reimbursable school meals in public schools, effective with school year 2006-07. The CNS focuses on:

  • moderating calories;
  • limiting fat, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars;
  • eliminating trans fat; and
  • promoting more nutrient-dense foods such as such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat and nonfat dairy products, lean meats, legumes, and nuts and seeds.

The general standards and nutrients addressed in the CNS are based on current nutrition science and national health recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and national health organizations such as the National Academy of Medicine and American Heart Association. The CSDE's state nutrition standards committee reviews the CNS annually and determines if updates are needed to reflect changes in current nutrition science and national health recommendations.

Public school districts that choose to implement the healthy food option of Healthy Food Certification under C.G.S. HFC and Competitive Foods webpages.

The CNS meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Smart Snacks nutrition standards for competitive foods. For more information, refer to the CSDE’s chart, Comparison of the Connecticut Nutrition Standards and the USDA's Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards. Visit the CSDE's Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards and Competitive Foods in Schools webpages for more information on the USDA's Smart Snacks standards, 

Overview of CNS Requirements

To comply with the CNS, a food must meet at least one general standard and the serving (including any accompaniments served with the food, such as butter, cream cheese, salad dressing, and condiments) must meet the specific nutrient standards for the applicable food category. The six CNS food categories include: 1) snacks; 2) entrees sold only a la carte; 3) non-entree combination foods; 4) fruits and vegetables; 5) cooked grains; and 6) soups.

To meet one of the three general standards: 1) the food must be whole grain-rich (WGR); or 2) a food group (fruits, vegetables, dairy, or protein foods) must be the first ingredient; or 3) the food must be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable per serving. The nutrient standards include limits for calories, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars. They also prohibit trans fat, caffeine, nonnutritive sweeteners and sugar alcohols, artificial fat replacers, significant fortification, and nutrition supplements.

Connecticut Nutrition Standards and Resources