P.O. BOX 2120



August 15, 2008



Division Superintendents



Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Nutritional Guidelines for Competitive Foods


Schools play an important role in promoting practices that improve student health and wellness while supporting academic achievement. Increased physical activity and good nutrition are key factors in student wellness. The Virginia Department of Education (DOE) recognizes this role and has provided resources and tools to assist schools in addressing these health issues.


The Governor's Nutrition and Physical Activity Scorecard (Scorecard) is one important tool schools may use to identify best practices and evidence-based standards that address factors contributing to childhood overweight. Many school divisions have used the standards of the Scorecard in the development and implementation of the federally required Local Wellness Policy. These local wellness policies, required by Public Law 108-265, must address nutrition guidelines for foods available during the school day, nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities to promote student wellness.


This memo encourages the adoption of the Scorecard standards as the best practice policies and procedures for nutrition and physical activity in Virginia public schools. In particular, schools are encouraged to adopt the nutritional standards of the Scorecard as the guidelines for competitive foods sold or made available on school grounds during the regular school day. A competitive food is defined as a food or beverage that is not part of the school breakfast or school lunch meal.


The nutritional guidelines for competitive foods can be found in the standards for Questions 21 through 26 of the Scorecard. Beverage standards can be found in Question 22. The guidelines for competitive foods include, but are not limited to, the following standards per serving:

         at least five percent of the Daily Value for one of eight essential nutrients,

         less than 300 calories,

         no more than 30 percent of calories from fat,

         no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, and

         less than 35 percent by weight being sugar.


A PDF sample of the online Scorecard, including the nutritional guidelines for competitive foods, can be downloaded at:


A Nutrition Standards Assessment Tool has also been developed as an Excel spreadsheet to assist schools. Specific products can be evaluated to determine if they meet the nutrition standards of the Scorecard by entering information from the product's Nutrition Facts label into the spreadsheet. The product will earn a Pass/Fail indicator for each nutrition standard. Products that fail any of the standards would not meet the nutritional guidelines of the Scorecard. The Tool is to be used for evaluating food products only; beverages must meet the standards set forth in Question 22 of the Scorecard. The Excel spreadsheet is embedded in Question 24 of the sample Scorecard and can also be downloaded at:


Questions regarding the Scorecard and the nutritional guidelines may be addressed to Lynne A. Fellin, associate director of school nutrition programs and coordinator of Healthy Virginians initiatives, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-2717, or to the assigned school nutrition program specialist.