School Nutrition Programs

School Breakfast

Production Records Toolkit

  • Meal Pattern
  • Food Components
  • Dietary Specifications
  • The meal pattern shows the required amounts of each component that must be made available to each child to claim reimbursement for the meal. A food component is one of three food groups that comprise reimbursable breakfasts. These are fruits (or vegetables as a substitute), grains (with optional meat/meat alternate), and fluid milk. Schools must always offer all three food components in at least the minimum daily required quantities. The food items selected may be from any of the required components and must be in the required minimum quantities. The grade groups for breakfast are K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The following chart indicates the required daily and weekly components’ amounts for each grade group.

    Food Components

    Grades K-5 Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12
    Daily Weekly Daily Weekly Daily Weekly

    Fluid Milk (cups)
    Low-fat (1%) unflavored or fat-free unflavored or flavored

    1 5 1 5 1 5

    Fruits (cups)
    Fruit, Juice (cannot exceed half of the weekly total), and vegetables

    1 5 1 5 1 5

    Grains (oz. equivalents) All grains must be whole grain-rich

    1 7 1 8 1 9

    For more information on the lunch and breakfast meal pattern, go to Questions & Answers on the Final Rule, "Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs"

  • Fluid Milk:

    Only fat-free (unflavored and flavored) and low-fat (1%) milk (unflavored) may be offered as part of the reimbursable meal for children from kindergarten to grade 12.

    Fruits:

    The fruit component includes fresh fruit, frozen, canned, and 100% fruit juice.

    Vegetables:

    The vegetable component includes fresh, frozen, canned, and 100% vegetable juice.

    Meats/Meat Alternates:

    Meat and meat alternates include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, yogurt, dry beans and peas, whole eggs, alternate protein products, peanut butter or other nut or seed butters, and nuts and seeds.

    Grains:

    All grains must be whole grain-rich. Examples from the grain component include pasta, rice, bread, cereal (cooked or ready-to-eat), and rolls.  More information on the grain component is available.
  • For the breakfast meal patterns, the average daily amount of calories, saturated fat, and sodium for a five day school week, must be within the range of the chart listed below. Also note, all nutrition labels must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving.

    Daily amount based on the average for a five-day week
      Grades K-5 Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12
    Calories 350-500 400-550 450-600
    Saturated Fat (percentage of total calories) < 10 < 10 < 10
    Sodium (milligrams) ≤ 540 ≤ 600 ≤ 640
    Trans Fat (grams) Nutrition label or manufacturer specifications must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving
  • Offer versus serve (OVS) is a concept that applies to menu planning and the meal service.

    OVS allows students to decline some of the food offered in a reimbursable lunch or breakfast.

    Under OVS for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a student must take at least 3 of the 5 food components (meats/meat alternates; grains; fruits; vegetables; and fluid milk) in the required servings. One selection must be at least 1/2 cup from either the fruit or vegetable component. A food item is a specific food offered within the five food components. Within each component, different choices may be offered, and there are many combinations that the student may choose. OVS must be available for students at senior high schools and is optional at middle and elementary schools.

    Under offer versus serve for the School Breakfast Program (SBP), a school must offer at least four food items from the three required food components. The components at breakfast are grains (with optional meats/meat alternates allowed), juice/fruit/vegetable, and milk. The SBP does not have a separate meat/meat alternate component. Schools may substitute 1 ounce equivalent of meat/meat alternate for 1 ounce equivalent of grains after the minimum daily grains requirement is met. The student must select three food items, including at least 1/2 cup of fruit, to have a reimbursable breakfast. OVS is optional for all grade levels. For more information on OVS, go to OVS Guidance School Year 2015-2016.

School Lunch Program

Production Records Toolkit

  • Meal Pattern
  • Food Components
  • Dietary Specifications
  • Five-day Lunch Meal Pattern

    The meal pattern shows the required amounts of each component that must be made available to each child to claim reimbursement for the meal. A food component is one of five food groups that comprise reimbursable lunches. These are meats/meat alternates, grains, fruits, vegetables, and fluid milk. Schools must always offer all five food components in at least the minimum required amounts. The grade groups for lunches are K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The following chart indicates the required daily and weekly components’ amounts for each grade group.

    Food Components Grades K-5 Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12
    Daily Weekly Daily Weekly Daily Weekly
    Fluid Milk (cups)
    Low-fat (1%) unflavored or fat-free, unflavored or flavored
    1 5 1 5 1 5
    Fruits (cups) ½ 2 ½ ½ 2 ½ 1 5
    Vegetables (cups) ¾ 3  ¾ ¾ 3  ¾ 1 5
    Dark Green 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½
    Red/Orange 0 ¾ 0 ¾ 0 1 ¼
    Beans/Peas (Legumes) 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½
    Starchy 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½
    Other 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ¾
    Additional vegetables to reach total 0 1 0 1 0 1 ½
    Grains (oz. equivalents)
    All grains must be whole grain-rich
    1 8 1 8 2 10
    Meats and Meat Alternates (oz. equivalents) 1 8 1 9 2 10

    For more information on the lunch meal pattern, go to Questions & Answers on the Final Rule, "Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs".

  • Fluid Milk:

    Only fat-free (unflavored and flavored) and low-fat (1%) milk (unflavored) may be offered as part of the reimbursable meal for children from kindergarten to grade 12.

    Fruits:

    The fruit component includes fresh fruit, frozen, canned, and 100% fruit juice.

    Vegetables:

    The vegetable component includes fresh, frozen, canned, and 100% vegetable juice. Examples of each of the vegetable subgroups are listed below:

    • Dark Green Vegetables: broccoli, collard greens, dark green leafy lettuce, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, and turnip greens.
    • Red/Orange Vegetables: sweet potatoes, acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, tomatoes, and tomato juice.
    • Starchy Vegetables: potatoes, corn, green bananas, green peas, green lima beans, water chestnuts, and fresh cowpeas, field peas, or black-eyed peas (not dry).
    • Beans & Peas (Legumes): black beans, black-eyed peas (mature, dry), garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, soy beans, split peas, and white beans.
    • Other Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, green peppers, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, turnips, wax beans, and zucchini.

    Meats/Meat Alternates:

    Meat and meat alternates include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, yogurt, dry beans and peas, whole eggs, alternate protein products, peanut butter or other nut or seed butters, and nuts and seeds.

    Grains: 

    All grains must be whole grain-rich. Examples from the grain component include pasta, rice, bread, cereal (cooked or ready-to-eat), and rolls.  For more information on the grain component is available.

  • For the lunch patterns, the average daily amount of calories, saturated fat, and sodium for a five day school week, must be within the range of the charts listed below. Also note, all nutrition labels must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving.

    Daily amount based on the average for a five-day week

     

    Grades K-5 Grades 6-8 Grades 9-12
    Calories 550-650 600-700 750-850
    Saturated Fat (percentage of total calories) < 10 < 10 < 10
    Sodium (milligrams) ≤  1,230 ≤ 1,360 ≤ 1,420
    Trans Fat (grams)

    Nutrition label or manufacturer specifications must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving

After School Snack Program 

The meal pattern shows the required amounts of components that must be made available to each child to claim reimbursement for the snack. In order to be reimbursed, the snacks must contain at least two different components of the following four. A food component is one of four food groups that comprise a reimbursable snack. The following chart indicates the required daily components’ amounts for each age group. Children age 12 and older may be served larger portions based on their greater food needs. They may not be served less than the minimum quantities listed in that age group's column.

Area Eligible Toolkit

Non-area Eligible Toolkit

  • Snack Meal Pattern
  • Food Components
  • Food Components and Food Items Children ages 1–2 Children ages 3–5 Children ages 6–12
    Milk      
    Fluid Milk 4 fl. oz. (1/2 cup) 4 fl. oz. (1/2 cup) 8 fl. oz. (1 cup)
           
    Vegetable or Fruit      
    Juice, fruit, and/or vegetable 1/2 cup 1/2 cup 3/4 cup
           
    Grains/Breads      
    Bread or 1/2 slice 1/2 slice 1 slice
    Cornbread or biscuit or roll or muffin or 1/2 serving 1/2 serving 1 serving
    Cold dry cereal or 1/4 cup or 1/3 oz. 1/3 cup or 1/2 oz. 3/4 cup or 1 oz.
    Cooked cereal grains or 1/4 cup   1/4 cup   1/2 cup
    Cooked pasta or noodles 1/4 cup   1/4 cup   1/2 cup
           
    Meat/Meat Alternate      
    Lean meat or poultry or fish or 1/2 oz. 1/2 oz. 1 oz.
    Alternate protein products or 1/2 oz. 1/2 oz. 1 oz.
    Cheese or 1/2 oz. 1/2 oz. 1 oz.
    Egg (large) or 1/2 large egg 1/2 large egg 1/2 large egg
    Cooked dry beans or peas or 1/8 cup 1/8 cup 1/4 cup
    Peanut or other nut or seed butters or 1 Tbsp. 1 Tbsp. 2 Tbsp.
    Nuts and/or seeds or 1/2 oz. 1/2 oz. 1 oz.
    Yogurt 2 oz. or 1/2 cup 2 oz. or 1/2 cup 4 oz. or 1/2 cup

    For more information on afterschool snacks, go to https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/afterschool-snacks-faqs.

  • Fluid Milk:

    Only fat-free (unflavored and flavored) and low-fat (1%) milk (unflavored) may be offered as part of the reimbursable meal for children from kindergarten to grade 12.

    Vegetables or Fruits:

    Full-strength vegetable and/or fruit juice or an equivalent quantity of any combination of vegetable(s), fruit(s), and juice. Juice may not be served when milk is the only other component.

    Grains/Breads

    Grains/Breads must be whole-grain or enriched, or made from whole-grain or enriched flour or meal that may include bran and/or germ. Cereal must be whole-grain, enriched or fortified. For dry cereal, serve by either volume (cup) or weight (oz.), whichever is less.

    Meat/Meat Alternate

    A serving consists of the edible portion of cooked lean meat or poultry or fish. Alternate protein products must meet requirements in Appendix A or 7 Code of Federal Regulations, part 210. Nuts and seeds are generally not recommended to be served to children ages one to three since they present a choking hazard. If served, nuts and seeds should be finely minced. Yogurt may be plain or flavored, unsweetened or sweetened - commercially prepared.

Seamless Summer Feeding Option (SSO)

The SSO program allows School Food Authorities (SFAs) to provide free meals to qualified low income areas during traditional summer vacation or with state agency approval on balanced calendar breaks greater than ten days.

Resources

SFA Monitoring Form

Guidance on Meal Service Requirements

Policy Changes

USDA SSO website

Guidance on Mobile Site Options

Summer Food Service Resources

What sites can participate in the SSO?

  • SSO is only available through systems that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP).
  • SSO serves sites located within a school attendance area (not the site preparing food) that qualify at 50 percent or greater eligible free and reduced children by the individual school Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) percentage or by census block group data or census tracks. The percentage used to qualify is the percentage from the most recent October data. Those sites that qualify may be classified as open, in which all children 18 years or younger “eat free in communities where at least 50% of the children are eligible for free/reduced price school meals.” Other sites may be restricted open, which means the site meets open criteria but are later restricted for safety, control, or security purposes.
  • Closed enrolled sites may be any community for an enrolled group that meets the 50 percent or greater criteria. This does not include academic summer schools.
  • Migrant sites are certified through the migrant organization sponsoring the site that serves the children of migrant workers.
  • Camps can serve SSO using individual student eligibility from an application process.

What is needed to apply for the SSO?

  • Participation in the NSLP or SBP
  • Qualifying school information
  • Feeding site information: area eligible or enrollment
  • Dates of operation
  • Times of operation
  • Types of meals to be served (see below)
  • Advertising methods for the program

What types of reimbursable meals can be served in the SSO?

Service can include up to two of the following (if an approved camp or migrant site up to three meals can be served):

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch or dinner (migrant and camp sites are allowed to serve both)
  • Snack (am or pm)

What is the age requirement for children participating in the SSO?

  • All persons 18 years old and younger may receive meals.
  • All sites, with the exception of camps, must serve the meals at no cost to qualified children.

What meal pattern must be used at SSO sites?

  • The meal pattern required is the one from the most recent school year.
  • Grade group requirements on the meal pattern should be followed. With justification the most common grade group for the site may be applied for open and open restricted sites (as described above).
  • The supper meal pattern is the same as the NSLP meal pattern.

What times must meal service occur and where should meals be consumed?           

  • Breakfast must be served in the morning hours.
  • Lunch must be served between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • Supper must begin before 7:00 p.m. and end by 8:00 p.m.
    • Off-site consumption of meals is not allowed with the exception of a field trip or times of excessive heat. (See Excessive Heat memo under “Resources” at end)
  • Mobile feeding sites may be used with state agency approval

What records must be maintained?

  • Production records for meals
  • Records of number of reimbursable meals and non-reimbursable meals served
  • Records of any meals sold to adults
  • Onsite review by the SFA
  • Civil rights poster in a visible site at all service locations
  • Correct Civil Rights statement on all materials distributed to public
  • Food safety plan and records
  • Advertising for the SSO site(s)
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Resources

The FFVP is a federally funded reimbursement program that provides all enrolled children in a participating elementary school with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The FFVP is operated during the school day, outside of regular breakfast and lunch serving times. Each chosen site is funded according to a federally established funding range per enrolled child for the school year.

Who can apply to participate?

  • Must be an elementary school1
  • Operate the National School Lunch Program
  • Submit an application to be considered to participate
  • Have 50% or more of its students qualified for free or reduced meals
  • Be chosen to participate in order of percentage of free and reduced with the highest priority for those with the greatest need

When can you apply?

  • Once annually when the application process is announced
  • Application period is usually open for four weeks
  • Applications are available on Tennessee: Meals, Accounting, and Claiming (TMAC) only during the application period

What can be served?

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, not canned, frozen or dried
  • Low fat2 or fat free dips allowed with vegetables only
  • No smoothies or other combination items
  • Cooked vegetables are allowed only once weekly

When can fruits and vegetables be served?

  • During the school day, not before or after school
  • Cannot be served during breakfast or lunch
  • Cannot be served during summer school or school breaks

Who can receive fresh fruit and vegetables?

  • All children who are considered enrolled in the FFVP school
  • Teachers who are in the classroom providing nutrition education are encouraged to participate as a role model
  • Not intended for parents, community or other school personnel

What records to maintain?

  • Monthly claim on TMAC
  • Invoices for operating expenses, produce, supplies, and records for direct labor cost
  • Invoices and records for administrative expenses as indirect labor and equipment
  • Information on publicity of the program within the selected school
  • Information on following the submitted plan within the selected school
  • Information on nutrition educational activities
  • Standard operating procedure for the FFVP if the method of service varies from other food service methods in the school food safety plan

1 According to Tennessee law, elementary is defined as pre-K-6th grade.

2 According to the FDA, low fat is defined as 3 grams or less of fat per normal serving.

Related Information

  • Offer Versus Serve (OVS)
  • Crediting
  • Standardized Recipes
  • Certification Compliance
  • Offer versus serve (OVS) is a concept that applies to menu planning and the meal service.

    OVS allows students to decline some of the food offered in a reimbursable lunch or breakfast.

    Under OVS for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a student must take at least 3 of the 5 food components (meats/meat alternates; grains; fruits; vegetables; and fluid milk) in the required servings. One selection must be at least 1/2 cup from either the fruit or vegetable component. A food item is a specific food offered within the five food components. Within each component, different choices may be offered, and there are many combinations that the student may choose. OVS must be available for students at senior high schools and is optional at middle and elementary schools.

    Under offer versus serve for the School Breakfast Program (SBP), a school must offer at least four food items from the three required food components. The components at breakfast are grains (with optional meats/meat alternates allowed), juice/fruit/vegetable, and milk. The SBP does not have a separate meat/meat alternate component. Schools may substitute 1 ounce equivalent of meat/meat alternate for 1 ounce equivalent of grains after the minimum daily grains requirement is met. The student must select three food items, including at least 1/2 cup of fruit, to have a reimbursable breakfast. OVS is optional for all grade levels. For more information on OVS, go to OVS Guidance School Year 2015-2016.

  • Crediting is identifying that a food item meets a component in a certain quantity. There are always two parts to crediting: the component and the amount. The four acceptable tools for crediting are the Food Buying Guide (FBG), Child Nutrition Labels (often called CN Labels), USDA Foods Fact Sheets, and Product Formulation Statements. Note that recipes are not on this list. While recipes may be required for certain food items, a recipe can never stand alone in crediting. Every ingredient in a recipe must be credited using one of the four tools listed above. It is the responsibility of the Local Education Agency (LEA) to assure that food items meet the meal pattern requirement for the component. It is the LEA’s responsibility to request and verify that the supporting documentation is accurate.

    Food Buying Guide (FBG)

    The Food Buying Guide is the basis for all crediting in school nutrition programs, and the other three tools are based on the information in the FBG. The FBG is used to determine crediting of all meal components (meats/meat alternates, grains, fruits, vegetables, and fluid milk). The FBG specifically separates vegetables by the following subgroups: beans & peas, red/orange, dark green, starchy, and other.

    The original hard copy cover is shown here:

    The FBG has been updated since USDA issued the original hard copy. If a school still has a hard copy of the Food Buying Guide, the school must ensure that the most recent copies are being used. The FBG is utilized to determine component yield information, food quantities to purchase, and the specific contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements.

    The interactive Food Buying Guide Calculator for Child Nutrition Programs is available online. It has individual calculators for each of the 6 food groups outlined in the FBG and a self-tutorial instructional video.

    Child Nutrition (CN) Labels

    For a manufacturer to obtain a CN label for a food item, an evaluation of a product's formulation by Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is required to determine its contribution toward the meal pattern. It allows manufacturers to state this contribution on their labels. The program provides a warranty against audit claims for purchasers of CN labeled products. The CN Labels are typically seen only for items that contain meat/meat alternate. An example of a CN Label is shown here:

    A legitimate CN label must have the following:

    • the CN logo, which is a square/rectangular border;
    • the meal pattern contribution statement;
    • a six-digit product identification number;
    • USDA/FNS Authorization Statement; and
    • the month and year of approval found at the end of the USDA/FNS authorization statement.

    Acceptable ways to document CN labels include:

    • cutting out the CN Label directly from the box; or
    • photocopying the CN Label from the box; or
    • photographing the CN Label from the box.

    It is also allowable to use a watermarked CN Label; however, if a watermarked label is provided, an invoice with that product must also be provided.

    For more information on CN labeling, visit the CN Labeling Program web site.

    USDA Foods Fact Sheets

    USDA Food Fact Sheets provide equivalent yields on USDA foods.  A sample portion of the USDA Food Fact Sheet is shown here:

    USDA Food Fact Sheets are available in the following food categories: grains/breads, meat/meat alternates, vegetables/fruits, and other. For each food category, the fact sheets are listed alphabetically by commodity title and include the USDA 4-digit commodity code.

    USDA Foods Fact Sheets are available online.

    Product Formulation Statements (PFS)

    An appropriate PFS will provide specific information about the product and shows how the food credits toward the meal pattern. When purchasing a processed product without a CN Label, the LEA may request a signed PFS on manufacturer’s letterhead that demonstrates how the processed product contributes to the meal pattern requirements.

    More information on PFS is available online.

  • A standardized recipe is one that has been tried, adapted, and retried several times by a given foodservice operation and has been found to produce the same food quantity and quality every time when the exact procedures are used.

    Reasons for Using a Standardized Recipe

    • Standardized recipes ensure that the product will be of the same quality each time the food is prepared.
    • Using standardized recipes will result in the same yield in product each time the recipe is prepared.
    • Time and money will be saved because employees are familiar with recipes.
    • The facility has better control of inventories and costs.

    Parts of a standardized recipe are:

    • Recipe title
    • Recipe category corresponding to a food component
    • Ingredients
    • Weight/volume of ingredients
    • Nutrients per serving
    • Critical control points
    • Preparation directions
    • Cooking temperatures and time
    • Serving/portion size
    • Equipment and suggested tools for serving
    • Recipe yield

    The USDA recipes were revised in 2005 and have been standardized, edited for consistency, and updated with critical control points (CCP).

    Sources for Standardized Recipes for Schools

  • The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act provides an additional 6-cents per lunch reimbursement to school districts that certified to be in compliance with the new meal patterns. The increased reimbursement, a significant investment in improving the quality of school meals, are provided to school districts once they meet the new meal patterns published in the final rule on January 26, 2012. Funding became available to school districts starting October 1, 2012.

    More Information