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Child Nutrition Programs Resource Library

A library of online resources for program operators participating in the Child Nutrition Programs.

Overview

The Nutrition Services Division (NSD) is providing a library of online resources for program operators participating in the School Nutrition Program (SNP), and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). These resources are made available to assist program operators with career development, compliance needs, and to enhance their Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The resources are grouped by program and separated by topic areas. The After School Program and Food Distribution Program resources are coming soon!

For online trainings, please refer to the Course Catalog web page.

Definitions

NSLP After School Programs (ASP): The NSLP ASP is a federal SNP that provides students in afterschool programs a nutritious snack and education activities. The NSLP ASP must follow the NSLP ASP federal meal pattern and provide organized, regularly scheduled activities in a structured and supervised environment. Afterschool programs may also choose to participate in the SFSP to provide a meal to students in their programs, in addition to the NSLP ASP.

Food Distribution Program: The Food Distribution Program is a federal CNP that is available to NSLP and SFSP sponsors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases 100 percent domestically-grown foods to support the American agricultural market. These USDA Foods help schools create appealing, nutritious, cost-effective menu options and help schools comply with USDA meal pattern requirements. In addition to USDA Foods, the USDA contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Supply Office to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to participants under the DoD Fresh program. The value of USDA Foods and DoD Fresh produce agencies receive is based on a formula that multiplies the number of lunches claimed during the previous year by a per meal rate, which is adjusted annually. This is referred to as entitlement. USDA Foods and DoD Fresh produce may be used in all school meals served to children, including school snack programs and supper.

National School Lunch Program (NSLP): The NSLP is a federal meal program operated in public and nonprofit private schools, charter schools, and residential child care institutions and is designed to provide culturally relevant, nutritious lunches to children each school day. Meals include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and meat/meat alternate options, and must meet specific nutritional standards. Schools participating in the NSLP receive federal meal reimbursement for meals served. Federal meal rates are established at the paid, reduced-price and free levels. Schools participating in the NSLP and School Breakfast Program (SBP) can also receive state reimbursement through the Universal Meal Program, so that all meals served under the NSLP are served at no cost to the students.

School Breakfast Program (SBP): The SBP is a federal meal program operated in public and nonprofit private schools, charter schools, and residential child care institutions and is designed to provide culturally relevant, nutritious breakfast to children each school day. Meals must meet specific nutritional standards. Schools participating in the SBP receive federal meal reimbursement for meals served. Federal meal rates are established at the paid, reduced-price and free levels. Schools participating in the NSLP and SBP can also receive additional state reimbursement through the Universal Meal Program, so that all meals served under the SBP are served at no cost to the students.

School Food Authority (SFA): An administering entity for the operation of a school feeding program. It can receive federal meal reimbursements for administering the meal programs. An SFA may be a school district, several school districts, or individual schools.

School Nutrition Programs: Within California, any of the following programs: the SBP, NSLP, Seamless Summer Option (SSO), or Special Milk Program, Food Distribution Program, and NSLP Afterschool Snack Program.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): A program that reimburses sponsors for administrative and operational costs to provide meals for children 18 years of age and younger during periods when they are out of school for 15 or more consecutive school days. The SFSP is a federally funded program that provides meal reimbursement for the operational and administrative costs to provide meals for children 18 years of age and younger during periods when they are out of school for fifteen (15) or more consecutive school days. The SFSP provides an opportunity to continue a child's physical and social development while providing nutritious meals during vacation periods from school. Participation in the SFSP is open to both school and community operators in area eligible communities.

Seamless Summer Option (SSO): The SSO is a federal option for NSLP and SBP Operators to provide summer meals for children in area eligible communities. The SSO combines features of the NSLP, SBP, and SFSP. Program Operators of the SSO may operate at community or recreational centers, libraries, camps, schools, and other eligible summer meal sites. Participating in the SSO reduces paperwork and administrative burdens, and makes it easier for SFAs to feed children during traditional summer vacation periods in neighborhoods experiencing low incomes and, for year-round schools, during school vacation periods of more than ten days.

School Nutrition Programs

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Agriculture-based Education

Grade Group Resource Description
K–12 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Photo Cards External link opens in new window or tab.
This set of 140 beautiful photo cards can be used to encourage students to learn about and eat more fruits and vegetables. Each card lists the English and Spanish name of the fruit or vegetable.
4–6 Nutrition to Grow On Curriculum An innovative curriculum for grades four through six that offers teachers a direct link between the garden and nutrition education.
K–12 Harvest of the Month Harvest of the Month is an online resource with access to tools and materials that can be used widely in school environments.
2–3 Growing Healthy Kids Garden-based and nutrition education curriculum connecting to plants, and uses gardening as a vehicle to expose children to a variety of vegetables and fruits and encourages increased consumption of vegetables and fruits.
5–6 Dig In! Standards-based Nutrition Education from the Ground Up Ten nutrition education lessons that introduces students to the food system, gardening, food safety, taste testing and more!
5–7 Food Safety from Farm to Fork A resource used to help students better understand food safety through real-life examples, activities, and games.
3–4 The Great Garden Detective Adventure This standards-based curriculum integrates gardening experiences and nutrition education to empower children to make healthful food choices and develop an awareness of how fruits and vegetables are grown.
7–8 The Soil Story Curricular Guide External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) This curricular guide serves as a supplemental material for teaching middle schoolers Next Generation Science Standards.
5–6, 7–8, and 9–12 Nourish: Food and Community This instructional resource contains a curriculum guide about food and sustainability.
3–5 Abundant California External link opens in new window or tab. A suite of lessons designed for grades three through five that explores the phases of our food system, including growing, harvesting, seed production, processing, storing, transporting, marketing, and eating. The suite contains 10 complete lessons that connect to Next Generation Science Standards, California history and social science standards, and Common Core. They offer a variety of hands-on activities and suggestions for extended learning.
K–12 Team Nutrition Garden Resources External link opens in new window or tab. Team Nutrition has several resources to connect nutrition education to school and child care gardens, local farms, and farmers markets. They also offer evidenced-based curricula that educators can use to integrate garden-based nutrition education lessons into core educational subjects such as Math, English Language Arts, and Science. CNPs may request free printed copies of many of these materials.
K–12 Life Labs Garden Enhanced Nutrition Education Lesson Resources web page External link opens in new window or tab. This web page houses a database for online education and curricula to teach garden-enhanced nutrition education.
K–12 The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom Teaching Resources web page External link opens in new window or tab. The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom provides a variety of resources to teachers, after-school coordinators, and anyone educating students in grades K-12. Resources can be downloaded or ordered at no cost.
1–3 Center for Ecoliteracy Whole Kids Foundation Starting with Soil External link opens in new window or tab. This iPad application uses animation, interactivity, and sound effects to demonstrate how plants and animals cooperate to make the soil we need to grow healthy food. Materials are designed for students ages seven through nine and their families.
K–12 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Gardens: Using Gardens to Grow Healthy Habits in Cafeterias, Classrooms, and Communities External link opens in new window or tab. This fact sheet reviews school farms spanning acres in Minnesota, indoor tower gardens in Vermont, raised beds in New York City, aquaponics systems in the Virgin Islands, and native food gardens in tribal communities.

Nutrition Education

Grade Group Resource Description
6 Start Right With Breakfast External link opens in new window or tab.

Students explore why eating breakfast matters, what constitutes a balanced breakfast, and how MyPlate can help them make healthy eating choices.

7 What’s Your Healthy Eating Style External link opens in new window or tab. Students explore their eating patterns and ways to choose nutritious foods and drinks that are low in added sugars, sodium and saturated fat.
8 The Truth About Snacking and Sodium External link opens in new window or tab. Students explore how to choose a healthy meal and snack options, and how sodium affects the human body.
Kindergarten Building a Healthy Me! Curriculum
This curriculum features six nutrition education lessons that introduce children to the food groups and to a variety of healthy eating options.
K–12 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Photo Cards External link opens in new window or tab.
This set of 140 beautiful photo cards can be used to encourage students to learn about and eat more fruits and vegetables. Each card lists the English and Spanish name of the fruit or vegetable.
PreK–12 Team Nutrition Education Materials
Information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Team Nutrition Initiative that provides free nutrition education materials created for children in the CNP.
K–12 Harvest of the Month Harvest of the Month is an online resource with access to tools and materials that can be used widely in school environments.
5–6, 7–8, and 9–12 Nourish: Food and Community This instructional resource contains a curriculum guide about food and sustainability.
K–2 EatFit Nutrition education and physical activity lessons that teach students the skills they need to meet their goals.
4 Children’s Power Play! School Idea and Resource Kit Nutrition education and physical activity kit includes ten activities to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption and to promote physical activity.
6–8 Integrating Concepts about Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Lessons that can be integrated into core subjects for middle schoolers. Lessons are organized into nutrient content areas: carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water.
4–7 Healthalicious Cooking Six after-school lessons used to develop student skills in food preparation, recipe reading, menu planning, meal preparation, and to be physically active.
K Discover MyPlate Six interactive nutrition lessons for kindergarteners including mini books, food cards, recipes, student workbooks, parent handouts, and a poster to help develop healthy food choices and to promote a physically active lifestyle.
1–2 Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! Curriculum Nutrition education lessons that help children learn the basic skills to identify healthy food choices and understand more about agriculture and our food system.
4–5 Nutrition Pathfinders This curriculum provides a range of lessons that focus on fundamental concepts about healthy eating and physical activity.
1–6 Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum Nutrition Education lessons that can be integrated into the core subjects. These lessons have supporting resources including posters, songs, games, and parent handouts.
9–12 ReThink Your Drink These lessons incorporate nutrition and physical activity recommendations, discuss balancing calorie intake with physical activity levels, and limiting the consumption of soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
3 Shaping Up Your Choices This resource teaches students the skills they need to apply problem-solving, reasoning, and critical thinking techniques to their food choices. Resources include: Teacher guide, student workbooks and assessments, and CD with food pictures.

Recipes

Grade Group Resource Description
K–12 California Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes
This collection of school district culinary center recipes reflects a variety of strategies for scratch cooking, including using locally grown California produce and multicultural flavors that students love.

USDA Standardize Recipes – Institute of Child Nutrition (theicn.org) External link opens in new window or tab.

Cooking in the Classroom

Grade Group Resource Description
K–12 Cook with Kids! Cooking Event Planner
The Cook with Kids! Cooking Event Planner provides a variety of tips and handouts for planning and instructing cooking and nutrition education in the classroom, including equipment lists, sample recipes, and safety rules.
K–12 Classroom Cooking Cart Equipment
Provides a list of basic items for preparing food in the classroom.
2–7 Kids Cook Farm-Fresh Foods
An activity guide that links academic content standards to the real world through gardens, nutrition, cooking, recycling, and the environment.

Physical Activity

Grade Group Resource Description
6–8 Exercise Your Options Middle-school students assess their nutrition and physical activity in this curriculum that aligns with education standards and is based on a behavior-change model.
K–2 EatFit Nutrition education and physical activity lessons that teach students the skills they need to meet their goals.
6–8 Integrating Concepts about Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity Lessons that can be integrated into core subjects for middle schoolers. Lessons are organized into nutrient content areas: carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Additional Resource Databases

To find additional resource databases, visit the:

  • Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) ICN Resources A-Z Index web page External link opens in new window or tab. has resources that support all of the CNPs such as best practices, posters, mini posters, nutrition curriculum, and more.

  • The Edible School Yard Project Resource Library web page External link opens in new window or tab. has nutrition education resources that can be sorted by place of learning (kitchen classroom, garden, lunchroom, indoor classroom, etc.), grade level, subject and materials needed.

  • The Center for Ecoliteracy Resources web page External link opens in new window or tab. provides a collection of books, lessons, guides, recipes, videos, and other tools to support ecological education.

  • The California Agriculture in the Classroom Teaching Resources External link opens in new window or tab. provide a variety of agriculture resources and lessons to teachers and educators in grades K–12. You can download the resources or order a set at no cost. Resources are searchable by subject, keyword, or grade level.

  • ICN Food Safety web page External link opens in new window or tab. has developed resources to assist in ensuring food safety in all of the CNPs.

Summer Food Service Program

Nutrition Education

Grade Group Resource Description
K–12
The infographic is a colorful handout that schools and community groups can distribute to parents to increase awareness of the importance of healthy choices during the summer months.
K–12
This guide is a six page color brochure that schools and community groups can distribute to parents to increase awareness of the importance of healthy food choices and physical activity during the summer months. Guides available for order or print in English and Spanish.
K–12
This hands-on kit is designed to get kids and families excited about healthy eating and physical activity during the summer months. The kit is designed for use by summer meal site operators and focuses on using music, games, art, and movement to motivate kids and families to choose more fruits and vegetables, choose water instead of sugary drinks, get enough physical activity every day, and to limit screen time. Guides available for order or print in English and Spanish.
K–12
This placemat can be given out with summer meals. It has fun physical activity call outs, nutrition education puzzle, jokes, and more.
PreK–12
Information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Team Nutrition Initiative that provides free nutrition education materials created for summer meal programs.
K–12
This set of 140 beautiful photo cards can be used to encourage students to learn about and eat more fruits and vegetables. Each card lists the English and Spanish name of the fruit or vegetable.

Additional Resource Databases

To find additional resource databases, visit the:

  • Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) ICN Resources A-Z Index web page External link opens in new window or tab. resources that support all of the CNPs such as best practices, posters, mini posters, nutrition curriculum, and more.

  • ICN Food Safety web page External link opens in new window or tab. has developed resources to assist in ensuring food safety in all of the CNPs.

Contacts

School Nutrition Program

For general SNP related questions, contact SNPINFO@cde.ca.gov.

For nutrition education resource questions and inquiries, contact NutritionEducation@cde.ca.gov.

Summer Food Service Program

For questions regarding the SFSP, contact the SFSP team by email at SFSP@cde.ca.gov.

Mailing Lists

Sign up to receive program information by email. By being a member of the mailing lists, you will be notified by email when there are program updates.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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