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All reimbursable meals offered in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) must include a grains food product. A reimbursable snack in the CACFP, SFSP, or the NSLP Afterschool Snack Service must include a creditable grain.
FNS meal pattern regulations establish the minimum serving size(s) of grains required for breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and snacks. Meal pattern charts for each of the Child Nutrition Programs are in the Resource Center. This section pertains to grains requirements in the NSLP, SBP, and CACFP. Please refer to Appendix E for grains requirements for the SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service.
1 Please refer to Appendix E for grains/breads requirements in the SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service.
The following types of ingredients are considered creditable grains in Child Nutrition Programs:
Foods that contribute to the grains requirement in all Child Nutrition Programs include the following items when made from above specified ingredients but are not limited to:
Please refer to the “Criteria for Determining Acceptable Grain Items” section for more information on grains requirements in each CN program.
The following criteria are to be used as a basis for crediting items to meet the grains requirement in the Child Nutrition Programs.
School Meal Programs:
CACFP and Preschool:
SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service (except Preschool):
|Please note that while the SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service are not required to serve grain items that meet the whole grain-rich criteria; however, regularly offering items that meet these standards will help children develop healthy eating habits.|
|Also, the SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service are not required to credit grains using ounce equivalents. However, ounce equivalents contain a slightly higher amount of creditable grains than grains servings. Therefore, ounce equivalents may be used to calculate grains servings in the SFSP and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service if the Child Nutrition program operator wishes to do so. See Appendix E for more information.|
The NSLP, SBP and CACFP meal patterns require specific amounts of grains foods that meet the whole grain-rich criteria to be served.
Any one of the following methods can be used to evaluate if a grain product meets the whole grain-rich criteria.
Please refer to specific program guidance for complete whole grain-rich criteria for SBP/NSLP and CACFP.
Some products include flour blends listed in the ingredient declaration, for example, ingredients: flour blend (whole-wheat flour, enriched flour), sugar, cinnamon, etc. When trying to determine if whole grains are the primary ingredient by weight for these products, Child Nutrition Program operators will need to know either that the whole-grain content is at least 8.0 grams per oz eq or that the weight of the whole grain is greater than the first ingredient listed after the flour blend such as sugar in the example. Non-creditable grains in products at very low levels used as processing aids are limited to less than 2 percent of the product formula by weight or less than 0.25 oz eq in the NSLP and SBP.
Manufacturers producing qualifying products (meat/meat alternate entrées containing grains) may apply for a Child Nutrition (CN) label to indicate the number of oz eq grains that meet the whole grain-rich criteria. The term “oz eq grains” on the CN label indicates that the product meets the whole grain-rich criteria, while the term “oz eq grains (enriched)” means the grains portion of the product is primarily made from enriched grains.
In addition to the SBP and NSLP, grain foods with a CN Label indicating the number of ounce equivalents that meet the whole grain-rich criteria do contribute to the CACFP, SFSP, and NSLP Afterschool Snack Service meal pattern requirements as declared on the CN label. Therefore, the ounce equivalent meets the minimum quantity for the grains component in all Child Nutrition Programs. For more information on the CN Labeling Program, see Appendix C.
By using the following flow chart, you can evaluate a product to determine if it meets the whole grain-rich criteria.
Once you determine that a grain product is creditable, it is important to read through the Criteria for Determining Ounce Equivalents section. This section explains when to use Exhibit A or calculate grams of creditable grains to determine the grains contribution.
The following criteria are to be used as a basis for crediting items to meet the grains requirement in the Child Nutrition Programs. Please note, products must include at least 0.25 oz eq grains.
Flow Chart - Does My Product Meet the Whole-Grain-Rich Criteria?
All grain products served in the NSLP/SBP must be credited based on ounce equivalent (oz eq) standards. Beginning October 1, 2021, the CACFP centers and day care homes must credit grains based on ounce equivalent (oz eq) standards. This applies to various products as follows:
There are two different ways to determine the amount required to provide 1.0 oz eq grains: by using the weights listed in Exhibit A: Grain Requirement For Child Nutrition Programs or by calculating the grams of creditable grains.
The weight needed to provide 1.0 oz eq grains for commonly available food products can be determined using Exhibit A. The wide variety of prepared grain 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 weight required to supply 1.0 oz eq grains.
There are several situations where creditable grains 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 manufacturer’s formula demonstrates that a product provides a higher amount of creditable grains than the standard grams per oz eq (>16g for items in groups A-G or >28g for groups H and I) of Exhibit A; or 2) you are using a recipe and you choose to calculate the serving size based on grams of creditable grains instead of using Exhibit A.
In these cases, the Child Nutrition Program operator will need to obtain or maintain documentation (such as documentation from manufacturer or recipe) showing the weight of creditable grain(s) per portion of the grain item. This will be easy for grain items prepared on-site, since the exact weight of the creditable grains can be documented using the recipe. For purchased products, the manufacturer will need to provide the required documentation showing the weight of creditable grain(s) per portion. Manufacturers may wish to provide this information using a Product Formulation Statement (PFS) to protect their proprietary information. Sample PFS templates are located on the CN Labeling website at https:///www.fns.usda.gov/cnlabeling/food-manufacturersindustry. If you have a situation where documentation is required, but the manufacturer cannot supply the documentation, that product is not creditable toward the reimbursable meal.
When the exact or minimum amount of creditable grains can be documented, the grains contribution for items listed in Groups A-G of Exhibit A may be calculated using 16.0 grams of creditable grains as 1.0 oz eq.
There are three steps to determine how many oz eq grains a recipe yields when calculating based on the grams of creditable grains:
The following 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 (see “Examples of Foods That Are Creditable Toward the Grains Component” and “Criteria for Determining Acceptable Grain Items” sections), find the Group on the chart containing the name of the food product. Read the minimum serving size required for that group on the right-hand side of the chart.
The data for grains in the yield tables includes yield information on common types and customary portion sizes of products that you can buy on the market. All grains served must meet program requirements.
The approximate weight of an oz eq of grains is given in the table.
The columns are as follows:
Food As Purchased, AP: In general, foods are arranged in alphabetical order. The Group is listed for each product. For additional information on these groups, see Exhibit A.
Purchase Unit: The purchase unit for grain items is generally by the pound or, for cold dry cereals, a package. You can use data for one purchase unit to determine how much of the item you need for the number of people you serve.
Servings per Purchase Unit, EP (Edible Portion): This column shows the number of oz eq obtained from each purchase unit. Numbers in this column are often rounded down in order to help ensure enough food for the number of servings.
Serving Size per Meal Contribution: The size of an oz eq is expressed in weight and/or volume.
Purchase Units for 100 Servings: This column shows the number of purchase units needed for 100 servings. Numbers in this column are generally rounded up in order to help ensure enough food for the number of servings.
Additional Information: This column gives other information to help you calculate the amount of food you need to prepare meals. For example, the number of cups you will get from one pound of food as purchased is shown for many grain items.