Carrots and Sticks: Compliance Provisions in State Competitive Food Laws

Smiling boy and girl holding a basket containing fresh produce.

Different approaches U.S. states are taking to improve compliance with competitive food laws at the district and school levels are examined in this article.


The Issue

New federal standards around competitive foods available in schools take effect during the 2014-2015 school year. This article examines the approach to increasing compliance that 18 states have taken.

Key Findings

  • Five states provided financial and/or programmatic incentives.

  • Eleven states included contract provisions.

  • Seven states stipulated monetary penalties for noncompliance.

  • Five states had laws containing a combination of approaches.


Compliance measures help to strengthen food laws by providing state agencies with an enforcement mechanism. This study examines the provisions states have made to ensure competitive food law compliance, providing important information for state and school decision-makers.

About the Study

Using LEXIS-NEXIS and Westlaw databases, searches were conducted for all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia on statutory laws and administrative codes effective as of January 1, 2013 regarding school competitive food laws. Two study authors analyzed the laws to ensure relevancy.