Wellness » FAQs


1. Do the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) standards for fundraisers apply if information about the fundraiser is given to the children during the school day, but they do not sell or consume the food during school hours?

    The nutrition standards cover the food fundraiser sold and consumed during the school day. It does not cover food fundraisers ordered and delivered after the school day. However, we encourage, but not require, schools to be consistent and have fundraisers during and after school that promote student health and the reduction of childhood obesity by limiting foods high in added sugar, fat, sodium or trans fat content.

2. If a PTA sells snacks in the cafeteria during the lunch period, does it count as a la carte or

    It should count as a fundraiser since proceeds go to PTA rather than food service. Food sold as fundraisers before or during the meal may compete with the reimbursable meal and/or cafeteria a la carte foods, if offered. Students are not allowed to purchase food from fundraisers until 30 minutes after the last meal period.

3. Where can we find ideas for healthy fundraising and alternatives to food fundraising?


Classroom Parties/ Holiday Celebrations
4. How does PDE define "moderate in sodium" under the "Classroom Parties/Holiday

    There is no standard definition for “moderate in sodium”. For the purposes of these standards, sodium content should not exceed 360 mg per serving for individual foods and 480 mg per serving for meal-type products. So, snack foods like pretzels should be less than 360 mg per serving (as indicated on the product label). Meal type products like “a slice of pizza” should be less than 480 mg sodium per serving. We may revise these sodium limits, if a standard definition is developed.

5. Can the students have candy at classroom parties?

    Yes, the standards allow some treats. It is not the intent of the standards to eliminate all treats from students. Classroom parties should have minimal amounts of food that contain sugar as the first ingredient (maximum 2-3 items) and the party should included fresh fruits and vegetables, water, fruit juice or milk. However, we encourage healthy choices. Product ingredient listing-Ingredients are listed on a food label in descending order according to weight. That means the first ingredients listed are present in the highest amounts.

6. Can I send in cupcakes for my child’s birthday?

    If you have the permission of the classroom teacher, then it is within the guidelines of the nutrition standards to send in a cupcake. Flour would be the first ingredient.

7. Where can we find a list of healthy snacks for parties

    Here is some information from CSPI: http://www.cspinet.org/nutritionpolicy/healthy_school_snacks.pdf

School Store
8. If our school store is only open after school, does it have to comply with guidelines?

    The nutrition standards only apply to foods that are available during the school day. So, if your school store is only open after the school day, you exceed the nutrition standards. Of course, we still encourage you to offer healthier options in the school store, even after the school day.

9. Can the school store sell candy and soda?

    Yes, if the products are sold after the end of the school day. During the school day, the school store must follow the nutrition standards as listed.


10. Can schools provide an occasional pizza party with veggies and fruit as a reward? Is this
considered a positive nutrition message?

    Food should not be used as a reward for classroom or school activities unless the reward is part of a nutrition education demonstration activity (e.g., guest chef, trip to a farm or farmer’s market, etc.). Schools can still have a pizza party, but it would be considered a classroom celebration and would need to comply with the PDE standards for classroom parties and celebrations.

11. Our school participates in a program where students can earn a coupon for a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza for meeting their monthly reading goal. The school issues the coupon, but the pizza is not consumed during the school day. The parent takes the child to Pizza Hut after school hours. Can we still do this and comply with PDE nutrition standards?

    Yes, your school can still participate since the pizza is consumed after the school day.

General/ Miscellaneous
12. Can a student bring a bag of potato chips in their packed lunch?

    Yes, the guidelines do not address packed lunches sent from home although the school encourages healthy packed lunches.

13. How do the nutrition standards accommodate lactose-intolerant students' milk needs?

    Lactose-free and lactose reduced milk (milks with the lactose sugar removed or reduced) fit into the milk category of the Year One and Year Two standards for a la carte beverages. These milks should be available from most dairies. Soy and rice beverages (often called soy milk and rice milk) are not truly “milk” so they fit into the “other 25% category” of the Year One and Two standards for a la carte beverages.

14. What are Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value? Where can we find more information on them?

    Below are three links to information about Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value. There are four categories of Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value: Soda Water, Water Ices, Chewing Gum and Certain Candies. These foods are described in more detail in the first link below from the USDA Website. Specific foods in these categories are considered Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value unless they receive an exemption from USDA. The list of USDA exempted foods is on PEARS
Forms Download and the second link below.

The link below lists the Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value defined by federal regulation Appendix B of 7 Part 210.  Federal regulations state that Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value may not be sold in the food service area during the lunch period. PDE Nutrition Standards provide further  restrictions to Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value.

15. Can schools use food as an instructional tool in the elementary school? For example, can
they use raisins or animal crackers (but not candy) in math class?

    Yes, but they should use foods that are promoted in the nutrition standards (fruits, vegetables, etc.) to teach the principle they are trying to teach.