Ingredient Guide for Better School Food Purchasing
The Ingredient Guide for Better School Food Purchasing highlights unwanted ingredients to eliminate, and those to watch out for as new food products are developed and others are modified.
“Better School Food Purchasing” means a food product should include only whole foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, meats or dairy that are minimally processed or in their purest form; simply food made from food. A food product should not include unnecessary ingredients.
This document is a science-based tool created in partnership with Center for Science in the Public Interest, FoodCorps, and school nutrition professionals. This version contains an updated ingredient list with the most recent research as of July 2021.
School districts should decide what works best for their school food programs according to the unique needs of their community. This guide is a tool that can be used by school districts of any size or geographic location to:
- Share with industry partners, manufacturers, food entrepreneurs, brokers, and anyone wanting to enter the school nutrition space to guide their decision-making process in the development of new products and alteration of current products intended for schools; It can be used to help clarify expectations and understand market demand.
- Guide purchasing decisions and recipe development; It can be used directly in food bids or RFPs (Requests for Proposal).
- Communicate food philosophy to students and families via school nutrition websites or social media platforms.
- Steer overall menu direction and program vision.
- Overall, if school nutrition operators using this guide have questions about whether or how an ingredient is used, we encourage them to reach out to the manufacturer or vendor.
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