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Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products in the CNPs

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin


Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: Child Nutrition Program Operators

Attention: School Nutrition Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program Sponsors

Number: CNP-09-2017

Date: September 2017

Reference: U.S Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Policy Memoranda SP 53-2016 and CACFP 21-2016

Supersedes: Management Bulletin USDA-SNP-17-2012, Crediting of Tofu and Soy Yogurt in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and U.S. Department of Agriculture Policy Memo SP 16-2012 Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products

Subject: Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products in the Child Nutrition Programs

This management bulletin notifies Child Nutrition Program (CNP) operators that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed crediting information for tofu and soy yogurt products in the CNPs.

Please note: National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) Sponsor requirements for crediting tofu and soy yogurt has not changed. Tofu and soy yogurt is not allowed in the Summer Food Service Program.


Schools participating in the NSLP and SBP were provided the option to offer commercially prepared tofu as a meat alternate on July 1, 2012. This same option is extended to centers and day care homes participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), beginning October 1, 2017. The ability to offer tofu as a meat alternate allows NSLP, SBP, and CACFP operators to further diversify their menus and better meet the dietary needs of vegetarians and culturally diverse groups. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage plant-based sources of protein such as tofu and soy yogurt, which can contribute to improved nutrient intake and health benefits.

For tofu to be part of the reimbursable meal, it must be commercially prepared and meet the following definition, as written in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 210.2 and 226.2: “Tofu means a commercially prepared soybean-derived food, made by a process in which soybeans are soaked, ground, mixed with water, heated, filtered, coagulated, and formed into cakes. Basic ingredients are whole soybeans, one or more food-grade coagulants (typically a salt or an acid), and water.”


Tofu Products

For tofu products, ¼ cup (2.2 oz) of commercially prepared tofu, containing at least five grams of protein, is creditable as 1.0 oz equivalent (eq) meat alternate.

Since meals served through the CNPs are an opportunity for children to learn and eat healthy and balanced meals, foods should be easily recognized by children as part of a food group that contributes to a healthy meal. Therefore, products made with tofu that are not easily recognized as meat substitutes would not contribute to any component of the reimbursable meal. For example, tofu blended into a recipe, such as a soup or smoothie, that is not recognizable or does not represent a meat substitute will not qualify as a meat alternate.

Meat substitute products, such as links and sausages made from tofu, are easily recognizable as meat substitutes and can be included in a meal. However, when considering processed tofu products such as links and sausages made from tofu as meat alternates for the reimbursable meal, the tofu ingredient must contain the required five grams of protein, which is not shown on a nutrition facts panel. The most appropriate way to ensure that a product meets the USDA’s requirements is to request that the product be manufactured under the Child Nutrition (CN) Labeling Program following a federally approved quality control program. In circumstances where a CN labeled product is not available, program operators can use product formulation statements from the manufacturer to document how the product meets the CNP requirements.

Soy Yogurt

In addition, ½ cup (4.0 fluid oz) of soy yogurt is creditable as 1.0 oz eq meat alternate. This is consistent with crediting of dairy yogurt while allowing schools, centers, and homes to provide a nondairy alternative.

The Food Buying Guide (FBG) has been updated to reflect crediting changes. You can access the FBG on the USDA FBG Web page at

Please refer to the following charts, located in the FBG, for purchasing and crediting tofu and soy yogurt.

Tofu, commercial with minimum of 5 grams of protein per 2.2 ounces by weight (37 grams of protein per pound) Commercial is defined in 7 CFR, sections 210.2 and 226.2 as “soybean-derived food…basic ingredients [in tofu] are whole soybeans, one or more food-grade coagulants (typically a salt or an acid), and water.”

Purchase Unit Servings Per Purchase Unit Serving Size per Meal Contribution Purchase Units for 100 Servings Additional Information


¼ cup or 2.2 oz by weight (1 oz meat alternate)


½ cup (4.4 oz by weight) of tofu x 7.28 quarter cups divided by 16 oz per pound = 2.00 oz eq meat alternate

Yogurt, soy, fresh; Plain or flavored, sweetened or unsweetened—commercially-prepared

Purchase Unit Servings Per Purchase Unit Serving Size per Meal Contribution Purchase Units for 100 Servings
32 oz container


½ cup or 4 oz yogurt (1 oz meat alternate)


32 oz container


¾ cup or 6 oz yogurt (1-1/2 oz meat alternate)


32 oz container


1 cup or 8 oz yogurt

(2 oz meat alternate)


4 oz cup


One 4 oz container yogurt (1 oz meat alternate)


6 oz cup


One 6 oz container yogurt (1-1/2 oz meat alternate)


8 oz cup


One 8 oz container yogurt (2 oz meat alternate)


Implementation Dates for CACFP

Centers and day care homes are required to comply with the updated CACFP meal pattern requirements October 1, 2017.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact your agency’s CACFP or School Nutrition Programs (SNP) specialist.


Please contact the CACFP Nutrition Team by email at


Lori Porter, Child Nutrition Consultant (CNC), Southern SNP Unit, by phone at 916-322-1454 or by e-mail at, or Mia Bertacchi, Child Nutrition Assistant, Northern SNP Unit, by phone at 916-445-1261 or by e-mail at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, July 6, 2023
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