Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Introduction to the School Lunch Meal Pattern

The School Nutrition Programs Introduction to the School Lunch Meal Pattern online training.

Course Description

Learn how to identify the school lunch requirements and the importance of school lunch to children's health. This training provides an opportunity to apply your knowledge as you evaluate a daily and weekly school lunch menu to determine compliance, and learn about valuable resources to help you successfully implement the lunch meal pattern requirements.

  • Course Number: 226
  • Training Length: 30 minutes
  • Certificate: Available at the end of the training
  • Target Audience: Food Service Director and Staff
  • Mandatory: No
  • Cost: Free
  • Date Recorded: August 2017

Online Course

Begin the Introduction to the School Lunch Meal Pattern External link opens in new window or tab. course.

Referenced Resources

The following resources are referred to throughout this online course:


  • Crediting: 0.5 hours
  • Key Area: Nutrition (1000)
    • Training Topic: Menu Planning (1100)
      • Learning Objective: USDA Nutrition Requirements (1110)

For more information on crediting, access the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) web document Professional Standards Learning Objectives External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Additional Information

For more information about nutrition education training and resources, visit the CDE Healthy Eating and Nutrition Education web page.

General Resources

  • USDA Offer versus Serve (OVS) Guidance for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) manual for operators implementing OVS, which is optional at all grade levels for breakfast and required at the senior high school level only for lunch.

  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Weekly Nutrient Calculator External link opens in new window or tab. (XLS) an Excel spreadsheet that is designed to average your weekly dietary specifications offered over the course of a week and it is based on weighted averages. The spreadsheet is similar to the USDA’s Simplified Nutrient Assessment Tool, but is upgraded to work off of your planned menu for your planned quantity. Therefore, you will have a weighted average for the week. This tool does not replace the USDA approved nutrient analysis software. It is only a tool that you can use if you do not have nutrient analysis but want to see where you are at, especially with sodium levels.

  • USDA Food Buying Guide External link opens in new window or tab. manual assists with buying the right amount of food and the appropriate type of food and determine the specific contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements.

Contact Us

If you have technical difficulties, please contact the Education and Nutrition Policy Unit by phone at 916-445-9127 for assistance. For questions regarding the course content, contact Julie BoarerPitchford, Nutrition Education Consultant, by phone at 916-322-1563 or by email at

Questions:   Julie BoarerPitchford | | 916-322-1563
Last Reviewed: Monday, July 23, 2018
Related Content
Recently Posted in Nutrition