THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Office of P-20 Education Policy
We are often asked whether it is acceptable to offer condiments such as mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard with school meals, since some condiments are high in salt, sugar or fat and they add to the cost of meals.
Federal regulations allow condiments to be served as long as they fit into the dietary specifications for the age/grade group served. In fact, the use of condiments will often encourage the consumption of school lunches and breakfasts (e.g., ketchup on French fries or hamburgers, dressing on salads, sugar on breakfast cereals). Students are less likely to purchase a meal at school if they are unable to
"dress" the meal to their liking by using condiments.
The use of condiments is left to the discretion of the individual school food authority (SFA). However, it is our recommendation that, when addressing this issue, consideration be given to the financial status of the program. The use of condiments can affect program participation and therefore affect the revenues the program is able to generate. In a self-supporting program, a drop in participation can prove disastrous.
Our office encourages, but does not require schools to serve, within reason, those items, which help to promote student participation.