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The information contained in this Appendix provides guidance on meeting the Meal Pattern Requirements for grains served in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service. Child Nutrition operators for these programs may also choose to follow the guidance listed in Section 4. Please note that programs operating under seamless summer requirements must align with standards for the NSLP/SBP as identified in the following guidance.
Reimbursable breakfast and lunch meals offered for the SFSP must include food product(s) that contribute toward the grains/breads requirement. A reimbursable snack in the SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service may contain a grains/breads component. FNS meal pattern regulations establish the minimum serving size(s) of grains required for the SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service. Meal pattern charts for each of the Child Nutrition Programs are are available on the Resource Center page. Please note this guidance on grains/breads servings is also applicable to the CACFP meal program through October 1, 2021.
Use the following criteria as a basis for selecting items that will meet the grains/breads requirement:
To determine if a grain food product is creditable, Child Nutrition Program operators need to verify that the food product is made from whole-grain flour, whole-grain meal, corn masa, masa harina, hominy, enriched flour, enriched meal, bran, germ, or be an enriched product, such as enriched bread, or if it is a cereal, that it is whole grain, enriched, or fortified.
The following steps will help you to identify if a food product is creditable towards the grains/breads component. If at any point during the steps a “yes” answer is obtained, proceed to Section III “Criteria for Determining Serving Sizes.” If you answer “no” to all of the steps from A to H, the food product is not creditable towards the grains/breads component. Please note that program specific guidance for School meals and CACFP offers additional options and other information related to identifying creditable grain products. Please verify that grain products are appropriate for the meal service prior to purchase.
The following steps are summarized in a flow chart found in the “Instructions for using the Grains/Breads Flow Chart” section.
If a food product is made from whole grain, the product name on the label will usually include the word “whole.”
Some examples include: whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat rolls, whole-wheat buns, whole-wheat macaroni products, and whole-grain pasta.
If a food product is enriched, the product name on the label will include the word “enriched.”
Some examples include: enriched bread, enriched rolls, enriched buns, enriched rice, enriched macaroni products, enriched egg noodle products, enriched grits, and enriched cereal.
If a food product is labeled with an FDA-approved health claim, the product label will include one of the following on its packaging:
“Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers,” OR “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Ingredients: Corn flour blend (whole grain yellow corn flour and de-germinated yellow corn flour), sugar, oats, contains 2% or less of salt, baking soda, caramel color, annatto color, BHT for freshness.
Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate, ascorbic acid), niacinamide, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), reduced iron, zinc oxide, folic acid, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D, vitamin B12.
Any grain product found on any State agency’s Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)-approved whole- grain food list is creditable in SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service. Program operators can obtain a copy of a State agency’s WIC- approved whole- grain food list by contacting the WIC State agency. For a list of WIC State agency contacts, please see www.fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-contacts.
Ingredients that meet the standards for enrichment will include the word “enriched” as part of the ingredient name. This is typically declared on the label with the word “enriched” followed by the usual name of the grain ingredient along with the parenthetical listing of the enriched nutrients.
Some examples include: enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid); enriched cornmeal (…); enriched self-rising flour (…); and enriched farina (…).
Note: While enrichment of whole grain cornmeal is not required, many programs choose to purchase these products for the added nutritional value.
A whole-grain ingredient will usually include the word “whole,” “cracked,” “crushed,” or “groats.”
Some examples include: whole-wheat flour, cracked wheat, crushed wheat, buckwheat groats, graham flour (which is another name for whole-wheat flour), brown rice (which indicates that the rice retains the bran layer), old-fashioned oatmeal (also called rolled oats), quick-cooking oats, and whole cornmeal.
Note: nixtamalized corn, (i.e., corn treated with lime), such as hominy, corn masa, and masa harina are considered whole grain when evaluating products for meal requirements. Nixtamalization is a process that increases the bioavailability of certain nutrients. If the ingredient statement indicates the corn is treated with lime (for example, “ground corn with trace of lime” or “ground corn treated with lime”), then the corn is nixtamalized.
If the label ingredient statement does not clearly indicate the grain is whole grain or enriched, the Child Nutrition Program operator must obtain documentation from the manufacturer certifying the grain ingredient is whole grain or enriched.
Check with the manufacturer anytime you are unsure if the product meets requirements.
Some examples of grains that are whole grains, but are not always clearly indicated on the label as such include: amaranth, millet, and quinoa.
Bran and germ are two components of grains. While not whole grains, they are nutritious portions of the grains and are, therefore, credited the same as enriched ingredients for all Child Nutrition Programs. Bran or germ will be listed along with the name of the grains.
Some examples include: oat bran and wheat germ.
If you answered “yes,” documentation will be used to clearly indicate the grain is whole grain. The Child Nutrition Program operator must obtain documentation from the manufacturer certifying the grain ingredient is whole grain.
If you answered “yes,” documentation will be used to certify that the grain ingredient(s) of the product meet meal requirements.
Some examples of grain ingredients that are not creditable include: bromated flour, corn grits, degerminated cornmeal, degerminated (grain), durum flour, farina, flour, plain flour, self-rising flour, semolina flour, white flour, wheat flour, and stone ground corn. These ingredients may only contribute to the grains/breads component if the ingredient list indicates that they are whole or enriched. You may also obtain documentation from the manufacturer.
If you have answered “no” to all the above steps (A-J), the food product is not creditable towards the grains/breads component of a reimbursable meal. These items may be served as an “other foods” item and used to help round out the meal as well as contribute calories and nutrients.
Child Nutrition Program operators need to verify that the food product is made from whole-grain flour, whole-grain meal, corn masa, masa harina, hominy, enriched flour, enriched meal, bran, germ, or be an enriched product, such as enriched bread, or if it is a cereal, that it is whole grain, enriched, or fortified. By using the following flow chart, you can evaluate a product to determine if it is creditable towards the grains/breads component.
Once you have determined if a grains product is creditable, it is important to read through Section III “Criteria for Determining Serving Sizes.” This section will explain when to use Exhibit A or when to calculate grams of creditable grains (see the Criteria for Determining Serving Size section) to determine the portion size required to provide one grains/breads serving.
Flow Chart for Determining Creditable Grains/Breads
There are two different ways to determine the portion size required to provide one grains/breads serving: by using Exhibit A, or by calculating the grams of creditable grains. Please note that a food item must provide at least 0.25 serving of grains/breads to contribute to meal pattern requirements.
One grains/breads serving for commonly available food products can be determined using Exhibit A. The wide variety of prepared grains food products listed in Exhibit A are grouped based on their average grains content. Food types having similar concentrations of creditable grains are grouped together. Each group in Exhibit A provides the minimum serving size needed to supply one full grains/breads serving. Use Exhibit A for products that are whole grain, enriched, or fortified (if a cereal), or for products that have a creditable grain as the primary grain ingredient.
The weight needed for each group of grain food products to provide one grains/breads serving differs since different types of grains food products vary in their concentrations of whole-grain flour, whole-grain meal, corn masa, masa harina, hominy, enriched flour, enriched meal, bran, or germ.
For the types of food products listed in Groups A-G, 1 grains/breads serving provides not less than 14.75 grams of whole-grain flour, whole-grain meal, corn masa, masa harina, hominy, enriched flour, enriched meal, bran, or germ. The serving sizes (weights) given in Exhibit A, Groups A-G, may be used for grains food products that are either commercially purchased or prepared on-site.
Food products that are labeled whole grain or enriched, and food products that have a creditable grain as the primary grain ingredient, should adequately provide the minimum of 14.75 grams of creditable grains per serving (without obtaining manufacturers documentation) as long as the minimum serving sizes (weights) given in Exhibit A are met. If the product is not whole grain, enriched, or does not have a creditable grain for the primary grain ingredient, you must obtain manufacturers documentation showing the amount of creditable grain(s) in one portion of the product. Once documentation is obtained, calculate the serving size based on the grams of creditable grains as shown in step B.
Exhibit A, Groups A-G provides the weight needed for 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of a grains/breads serving in addition to the weight needed for 1 grains/breads serving.
For the types of food products listed in Groups H and I of Exhibit A to count as 1.0 grains/breads serving, the weights and volumes listed therein must be met.
When items in Groups H and I are served as cooked breakfast cereals (such as cooked oatmeal, cooked millet, cooked rice, or cold cereal), or cooked pasta, the weights and volumes listed in Exhibit A, Groups H or I must be used as noted. For example, the serving size required for one grains/breads serving of cooked oatmeal made from dry oats is 1/2 cup cooked or 25 grams dry oats.
Some of the food products in Group H, such as dry oatmeal or cornmeal, may be used as a grain ingredient in a recipe as well as a cooked cereal. When the cereal grain items listed in Group H are used as an ingredient in a recipe such as oatmeal bread or cornmeal muffins (in contrast to being used as a cooked breakfast cereal) do not use the amounts listed in Group H. In this case, one grains serving should be determined using the finished serving weights in Groups A-G of Exhibit A, or calculated using 14.75 grams of the creditable grains in one portion of the recipe.
For example, oatmeal bread made using dry oats may be credited in two different ways: 1) using the serving weight in Group B of Exhibit A which contains “bread” since the food type is now “bread,” or 2) using the information in the following section “Determining Serving Sizes Based on Creditable Grains Content.”
There are some situations where the creditable grains content would be used to calculate the serving size instead of using the serving weights given in Exhibit A. Some of these situations are: 1) a product is not whole grain, enriched, or fortified (if a cereal) and the primary grain ingredient is not a creditable grain; 2) a manufacturer claims that a product can provide the minimum of 14.75 grams of creditable grains per portion using a serving size less than the weights given in Exhibit A; or 3) a product is made locally and you choose to calculate the serving size based on grams of creditable grains instead of using Exhibit A; or 4) a food product does not fit into one of the groups of Exhibit A.
In these cases, the menu planner will need to obtain documentation showing the weight of creditable grain(s) content contained in the item. This is easy for grain items prepared on-site, since the exact weight of the creditable grain ingredients can be documented based on the recipe. For purchased products, the manufacturer will need to be contacted to obtain the required documentation showing the weight of creditable grains per portion contained in a specific food product. Be aware that some manufacturers will not provide this information if they consider it proprietary information. If you have a situation where documentation is required, but the manufacturer cannot supply the documentation, you cannot use that product as a credited component of a reimbursable meal.
When the exact or minimum amount of creditable grains can be documented, the grains serving for any grains product that is not a food type in Groups H or I, may be calculated using 14.75 grams of creditable grains as one grains/breads serving.
There are three steps to determine how many creditable grains/breads servings a recipe yields:
The chart titled “EXHIBIT A: Grain Requirements for Child Nutrition Programs” provides a general guideline for crediting prepared grains items.
Once you have determined that a food product is creditable toward the grains/breads component (see the “Steps in Identifying Creditable Grains Products” section above), find the Group on the chart containing the name of the food product. Read the minimum serving size for that group on the right-hand side of the chart.