Determining Creditable Grain Products in the CACFPProvides guidance on identifying crediting grain products in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Grain is a required component at breakfast, lunch, and supper meals, and is an optional component at snack in the CACFP. All grain products served in the CACFP must be made with enriched or whole grain meal or flour, bran, or germ. This web page provides guidance on crediting grain products in the CACFP. Additional guidance is available in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memorandum CACFP 09-2018, Grain Requirements in the CACFP; Questions and Answers (PDF).
- Originator of Resource: The California Department of Education (CDE), Nutrition Services Division
- User of Resource: CACFP directors, food service staff, and nutritionists
- Date Updated: December 2020
Determining Creditable Grain Products in the CACFP
The criteria to determine whether a grain product is creditable in the CACFP depends on whether the product is an infant cereal, breakfast cereal, or other grain product (for example, bread, tortilla, cracker, pasta, rice). Grain-based desserts, noted with the superscripts 3 and 4 in the USDA Exhibit A: Grain Requirements for Child Nutrition Program Operators (PDF), are not creditable toward the grains component in meals and snacks served in the CACFP.
Infant and Breakfast Cereals
Infant Cereals are cereals designed for babies that are usually prepared by adding water, breastmilk, or infant formula. Examples include infant wheat cereals, infant oat cereals, infant rice cereals, and infant mixed grain cereals.
Breakfast Cereals include instant cereals (e.g., instant oatmeal and cream of wheat), hot cereals (e.g., rolled oats), and ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals (e.g., puffed rice, rounds, flakes, and granola).
Below are the criteria to determine whether cereals served to infants, children, and adults are creditable:
Infant and RTE Cereals Served to Infants
- Only dry, iron-fortified infant cereal (mixed with water, iron-fortified infant formula, or breastmilk) is creditable toward the grains component at breakfast, lunch, and supper. Infant cereal may also be served at snack, but there are other creditable grain options at snack.
Tip!: There is no minimum standard of iron required for an infant cereal to be creditable. If one of the ingredients listed is iron, ferric fumarate, electrolytic iron, or iron (electrolytic), then the infant cereal is iron-fortified.
- RTE cereals are only creditable toward the grains component for infants at snack. RTE cereals must meet the sugar requirement of no more than 6 grams (g) of sugar per dry ounce (oz) and either have a whole grain or enriched grain as the first grain ingredient, or be fortified.
- Instant and hot cereals are never creditable toward the grains component for infants.
Breakfast Cereals Served to Children and Adults
- Breakfast cereals (includes RTE, instant, and regular hot cereals) must meet the sugar requirement of no more than 6 g of sugar per dry oz of cereal.
- Breakfast cereals must either have a whole grain, enriched grain, bran, or germ as the first ingredient or be fortified.
Tip!: Fortified cereals either include the word fortified on the product label, or the product’s Ingredient list includes the names of the added vitamins and minerals.
Other Grain Products
Grain products (other than infant and breakfast cereals) must meet one of the following criteria:
- The product’s first grain ingredient (or second after water) is a creditable grain. Creditable grains include whole grains, enriched grains, bran, and germ. For a list of creditable grains, see the list of whole grains, enriched grains, brans, and germs on the CDE Determining Whole Grain-rich (WGR) Products in the CACFP web page.
- The following five enrichment nutrients immediately follow the first grain ingredient: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), folic acid (B9), and iron (Fe).
- The product package is labeled as enriched, whole grain, or whole wheat.
- The CACFP Operator has documentation (for example, a product formulation statement) from the manufacturer stating that the first grain ingredient is the one that is enriched with the five enrichment nutrients: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), folic acid (B9), and iron (Fe).
- The product meets one of the WGR criteria listed in the USDA Policy Memorandum CACFP 09-2018, Grain Requirements in the CACFP; Questions and Answers (Q&A)
Tip!: All grain products, including infant and breakfast cereals, listed in any state agency’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Authorized Food List Shopping Guide are creditable in the CACFP. Access the USDA WIC Contacts web page for links to all state agencies’ WIC shopping lists.
For additional guidance on serving grains to CACFP participants, access the USDA Policy Memoranda CACFP 09-2018, Grain Requirements in the CACFP; Q&A (PDF) and CACFP 02-2018, Feeding Infants and Meal Pattern Requirements in the CACFP; Q&A (PDF).