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Smoothies Offered in the Child Nutrition Programs

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

Date: January 2014

Number: CNP-01-2014

To: Child Nutrition Program Sponsors

Attention: Food Program/Service Directors

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture Policy Memo SP 10-2014, CACFP 05-2014, and SFSP 10-2014

Subject: Smoothies Offered in the Child Nutrition Programs

Supersedes:: Management Bulletin USDA-CNP-07-2012

This Management Bulletin (MB) provides information and guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the crediting of fruit smoothies in the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP).   The guidance focuses on the service of smoothies in the School Nutrition Programs (SNP) but is applicable across all CNPs (e.g., the Child and Adult Care Food Program [CACFP] and the Summer Food Service Program [SFSP]). 


Previously, the USDA did not permit fruit smoothies to contribute toward the milk or meat/meat alternate requirements at breakfast. The USDA based this policy on the premise that service of recognizable forms of food supports the educational aspects of the federal meal programs and simplifies program operations. In addition, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes that the majority of the fruit recommended should come from whole fruits, including fresh, canned, frozen, and dried forms, rather than from juice. However, given that smoothies are now a common food item and, in many cases, a healthful option, the USDA has changed their policy.   

The guidance below provides school food authorities (SFA) and other program operators with clarification on how smoothies may be offered at any meal served under the CNPs.

  1. Can CNPs offer smoothies to meet the fluid milk, meat/meat alternate, vegetable, fruit, and grain components?

CNPs can credit the milk, fruit, and yogurt in smoothies prepared by program operators to meet meal pattern requirements for breakfast, lunch, or supper. However, CNPs cannot credit vegetables and grains in a smoothie. Also, yogurt may be credited as a meat alternate in smoothies at breakfast only.

  1. Can program operators blend smoothies before the point of sale such as in a satellite   kitchen?

Yes. Blending after the point of sale is not a requirement; CNPs can serve smoothies directly from the service line.

  1.  Can smoothies include grain such as oatmeal and meat/meat alternates such as peanut butter to improve flavor and consistency even though these ingredients in smoothies do not contribute to meal pattern requirements?

Yes. However, even though these extra ingredients in smoothies do not contribute to meal pattern requirements (except for yogurt at breakfast only), the grain and meat/meat alternate components added in smoothies must be counted toward the weekly limits on calories and saturated fat.

  1. Do smoothies have to include the full milk and fruit component?

No. Smoothies do not have to contain the full one cup fluid milk and full fruit requirement. However, program operators must always make certain they offer all components in the required quantities to meet meal pattern requirements.

  1. What type of milk must CNPs use when making smoothies?

The types of milk used in smoothies must be consistent with CNP guidance for the types of fluid milk acceptable for the specific program and age group being served. The SNPs and the CACFP must use low-fat (one percent milk fat or less, unflavored) or fat-free (unflavored or flavored) for children ages two and over. Agencies participating in the SFSP may use milk of any fat content; however, low-fat (one percent milk fat) or fat-free milk is recommended for children ages two and over. Whole milk is recommended for children between one and two years of age in all CNPs for their optimal brain development.

  1. How does pureed fruit credit toward the meal pattern requirement?

CNPs can count the volume of pureed fruit included in a beverage considered as juice toward the daily and weekly fruit requirements. Program operators must limit the amount of juice offered to children to no more than half (50 percent) of the weekly fruit offerings in school meals and no more than half (50 percent) of the daily fruit/vegetable component at lunch in the CACFP and SFSP. CNPs can count pureed fruit included in a beverage as the entire daily fruit/vegetable component at breakfast in the CACFP and SFSP. However, at snack, juice and milk cannot be creditable in a smoothie unless a third creditable component is served. CNPs must include juice and pureed fruit in beverages in this calculation.

Additionally, crediting of fruit is determined on a volume “as served” basis. The USDA Food Buying Guide for CNPs has yield information for a variety of fruits. For other fruits, program operators should determine crediting based on volume of fruit after pureeing. For example, program operators may determine the volume of blueberry puree obtained from one cup of whole blueberries by separately pureeing the blueberries and recording the amount of puree. For crediting of commercially prepared smoothies, see question 9.

Pureed fruit counts as juice when offered in beverage form. It can be credited as fruit when offered as a food, such as applesauce.

  1. When smoothies are served during a meal, do SFAs need to offer additional fruit and milk?

When SFAs offer smoothies on the serving line in the SNPs, the SFAs must also offer the fluid milk component in the required quantity to meet the meal requirements. This is necessary in order to meet the requirement to offer a variety of milk options for the SNPs. The USDA also strongly encourages program operators to offer additional fruit for children. This promotes variety and may assist in increasing offerings for Offer Versus Serve purposes and would allow a child that does not take a smoothie the option to select a fruit.

  1. How do SFAs identify the food components in the smoothie for students?

Consistent with the nutrition standards for school meal regulations, SFAs must identify the food components offered to students. SFAs serving smoothies should inform students about the components by listing the smoothie as a fruit and milk smoothie or a fruit and yogurt smoothie, for example, on the serving line. SFAs should contact their Nutrition Services Division (NSD) Child Nutrition Consultant(s) if they have any questions regarding the identification of components. 

  1. How do commercially prepared smoothies credit toward meal pattern requirements?

Commercially prepared smoothies may only credit toward the fruit component. Pre-packaged smoothies do not comply with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standard of identity for milk or yogurt and do not meet the CNP requirements for fluid milk or yogurt. When these products contain milk and/or yogurt, they may be labeled as “dairy beverage” or “dairy drink.” Therefore, milk or yogurt in a commercially prepared smoothie do not credit as these items.

Pre-packaged smoothies do not have a federal standard of identity, which means that product formulation and labeling can widely vary. Some frozen fruit products may be labeled as “fruit smoothie” even though they may actually meet the federal standard of identity for frozen desserts that do not qualify for contributing to the reimbursable meal as fruit.

Fruit purees made into a beverage may or may not have “smoothie” in the product name. However, the product label should include a statement regarding the “percent juice content” required by the FDA for beverages made with fruit puree. An eight fluid ounce smoothie beverage made from fruit puree with the juice content labeled as “contains 50 percent juice” would credit as four fluid ounces or ½ cup of juice for example. CNPs may count the volume of pureed fruit included in the commercially prepared beverage as juice. Smoothies containing less than 100 percent juice are the only example of when a CNP may offer less than 100 percent juice.

When considering the use of commercially prepared smoothies, SFAs need to be aware of how non-fruit ingredients may impact calories and saturated fat.

  1. Can smoothies contain nutritional supplements such as whey protein powder and     herbal supplements such as gingko biloba?

No. Smoothies with dietary and herbal supplements are not creditable for the CNPs. However, CNPs can make smoothies with juice that has been fortified with vitamins and minerals, such as orange juice with calcium and Vitamin D added.

  1. Are smoothies allowed at breakfast and lunch?

Yes. CNPs may offer smoothies at any meal. However, the NSD does not recommend offering a smoothie at both breakfast and lunch on the same day. Yogurt in smoothies is only creditable at the breakfast meal service.

  1. Does soy yogurt credit toward the meat/meat alternate in smoothies for breakfast?

Yes. Both dairy and soy yogurt can credit as a meat alternate in smoothies for breakfast in the School Breakfast Program only.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact your SNP County, CACFP or SFSP Specialist.

School Nutrition Programs: The SNP County Specialist list is available in the CNIPS Download Forms section, titled as Caseload SNP. You may also contact an SNP Office Technician by phone at 916-322-1450, 916-322-3005, or 800-952-5609.

Child and Adult Care Food Program: The CACFP Specialist list is available in the CNIPS Download Forms section, titled as Caseload CACFP. You may also contact a CACFP Office Technician by phone at 916-327-2991 or 800-952-5609.

Summer Food Service Program: The SFSP Specialist list is available in the CNIPS Download Forms section, titled as Caseload SFSP. You may also contact an SFSP Office Technician by phone at 916-322-1450, 916-322-3005, or 800-952-5609.

A contact list of SFSP Specialists is available in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS, Form #SFSP 01. You can also contact the SFSP Unit Office Technician by phone at 916-322-8323 to be directed to your SFSP Specialist.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
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