Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Food Marketing in Schools

Advertising or marketing in preschools and elementary, middle and high schools may only be for foods and beverages that meet nutrition guidelines.  School marketing includes food and beverage advertising and other marketing, such as the name or depiction of products, brands, logos, trade marks, or spokespersons or characters, on any property or facility owned or leased by the school district or school (such as school buildings, athletic fields, school buses, parking lots, or other facilities) and used at any time for school-related activities, including, but not limited to marketing on or through:

  • Signs, scoreboards, or posters
  • Curricula, textbooks, websites promoted for educational purposes, or other educational materials (both printed and electronic)  ex., Skittles counting books, McDonald’s playsets
  • Vending machines, food or beverage cups or containers, food display racks, coolers
  • Equipment, uniforms, school supplies ex. pencils, notebooks, textbook covers
  • Advertisements in school publications, on school radio stations, in-school television, computer screen savers and/or school-sponsored Internet sites, or announcements on the public announcement (PA) system ex. Channel One
  • Fundraisers and corporate-sponsored programs that encourage students and their families to sell, purchase or consume products and/or provide funds to schools in exchange for consumer purchases of those products ex. McTeacher’s night, Labels for Education, Box Tops for Education
  • Corporate incentive programs that provide children with free or discounted foods or beverages ex. Pizza Hut Book It! Program 
  • Sponsorship of materials, programs, events, or teams
  • Market research activities
  • Free samples, taste-tests, or coupons


Some products distributed or sold in schools may be special formulations that meet the nutritional standards for schools but are not available to the general public.  For example, companies may provide low-sugar formulations of popular breakfast cereals to the School Breakfast Program.  However, these formulations are not the same ones sold commercially in grocery stores.