Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Determining Whole Grain-rich Products in the CACFP

Provides guidance for identifying whole grain-rich (WGR) products in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).


This web page provides guidance for identifying WGR products in the CACFP. Additional guidance is available in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memorandum (Memo) CACFP 09-2018 Grain Requirements in the CACFP; Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) the USDA Policy Memo SP 34-2019, CACFP 15-2019, SFSP 15-2019, Crediting Coconut, Hominy, Corn Masa and Masa Harina in the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), and the USDA CACFP Meal Pattern Training Worksheets web page External link opens in new window or tab..

  • Originator of Resource: The California Department of Education, Nutrition Services Division

  • User of Resource: CACFP directors, food service staff, and nutritionists

  • Date Updated: December 2020

Determining Whole Grain-rich Products in the CACFP

At least one serving of grains per day must be WGR. This WGR requirement only applies to meals served to children and adults; it does not apply to infant meals. Food products that meet the WGR criteria in the CACFP are food products that contain at least 50 percent whole grains and the remaining grains are enriched grains, bran, or germ.

Whole Grain-Rich Food Product Criteria

To be considered a WGR food product in the CACFP, a product must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The product is included as a whole grain or whole grain cereal on any state agency’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Authorized Food List Shopping Guide. See the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) WIC Contacts web page External link opens in new window or tab. for links to all state agencies’ WIC shopping lists.

  • The product is a bread or pasta labeled whole wheat with one of the following exact product names that conform to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standard of identity statements for whole wheat on the label:

    • Bread: Whole wheat bread, graham bread, entire wheat bread, whole wheat rolls, graham rolls, entire wheat rolls, whole wheat buns, graham buns, entire wheat buns

    • Pasta: Whole wheat macaroni product, whole wheat macaroni, whole wheat spaghetti, and whole wheat vermicelli

Tip!: Food labels can be deceiving. Statements on the label such as whole grain, made with whole wheat, or contains whole grains do not meet the FDA standard of identity for whole wheat.

  • The product includes one of the two allowable FDA whole grain health claims on its packaging:

    • Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

    • Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Tip!: The Whole Grain Council Whole Grain Stamps on a product's package are not sufficient to determine if a grain product meets the WGR criteria because the grain product may contain high amounts of noncreditable grains.

  • The product is accompanied with proper documentation (for example, a standardized recipe or product formulation statement) demonstrating that whole grains are the primary (more than 50 percent) grain ingredient by weight.

  • The product meets the WGR criteria of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Tip!: CACFP Operators cannot apply the NSLP WGR criteria to grain-based desserts, as grain-based desserts are never creditable in the CACFP and may not contribute toward a reimbursable meal.

  • The product has a Child Nutrition (CN) Label that indicates the number of ounce (oz) equivalents grains and does not specify that the grain is enriched. If the CN Label lists enriched in parenthesis after the amount of oz equivalents, the product is a creditable grain, but not WGR. For example, a CN Label that reads 0.5 oz equivalent grains (enriched), is not a WGR product.

  • The product is a ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereal that meets the sugar limit, is fortified, and the first grain ingredient is a whole grain. RTE breakfast cereals that are not fortified may be WGR if they meet one of the other WGR criteria, including the USDA FNS Rule of Three, where the first three grain ingredients are evaluated (see below).

  • The product meets the USDA FNS Rule of Three: The first ingredient (or second after water) is a whole grain and the next two grain ingredients (if any) are creditable grains (whole grains, enriched grains, bran, or germ.)

Common whole grains, enriched grains, bran, and germ are listed below. These are not inclusive lists. Use the guidance in the lists below when applying the Rule of Three.

Whole Grains

Whole grains must be the first grain ingredient and may be the second or third grain ingredient:

  • Amaranth
  • Amaranth flour
  • Brown rice
  • Brown rice flour
  • Buckwheat
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Buckwheat groats
  • Bulgur
  • Corn masa
  • Cracked wheat
  • Graham flour
  • Ground corn treated with lime
  • Hominy
  • Hominy grits
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Masa harina
  • Millet
  • Millet flour
  • Nixtamalized cornmeal
  • Nixtamalized corn flour
  • Oats/oatmeal (any kind)
  • Quinoa
  • Rye groats
  • Sorghum
  • Sorghum flour
  • Spelt berries
  • Sprouted brown rice
  • Sprouted buckwheat
  • Sprouted einkorn
  • Sprouted spelt
  • Sprouted whole rye
  • Sprouted whole wheat
  • Steel cut oats
  • Teff
  • Teff flour
  • Triticale
  • Triticale flour
  • Wheat berries
  • Wheat groats
  • White whole wheat flour
  • Whole corn
  • Whole durum flour
  • Whole einkorn berries
  • Whole grain (WG) corn
  • WG corn flour/cornmeal
  • WG einkorn flour
  • WG oat flour
  • WG spelt flour
  • WG wheat flakes
  • Whole rye flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Whole wheat pastry flour
  • Wild rice
Enriched Grains

Enriched grains may be the second or third grain ingredient:

  • Enriched all-purpose flour
  • Enriched bleached white flour
  • Enriched bread flour
  • Enriched bromated flour
  • Enriched corn flour/cornmeal
  • Enriched durum flour
  • Enriched durum wheat flour
  • Enriched grits
  • Enriched rice
  • Enriched rice flour
  • Enriched rye flour
  • Enriched unbleached white flour
  • Enriched wheat flour
  • Enriched white flour
Bran and Germ

Bran and germ may be the second or third grain ingredient:

  • Corn bran
  • Oat bran
  • Rice bran
  • Rye bran
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ
Disregard These Ingredients
  • Noncreditable grain and flour ingredients listed after the words “Contains 2% or less…”

  • Grain derivatives (by-products):

    • Corn dextrin
    • Corn starch
    • Modified food starch
    • Rice starch
    • Tapioca starch
    • Wheat dextrin
    • Wheat gluten
    • Wheat starch
Noncreditable Grains and Flours

Noncreditable grains and flours cannot be one of the first three grain ingredients:

  • Any bean flour (e.g., soy, chickpea, lentil)
  • Any nut or seed flour (e.g., almond, sesame)
  • Barley malt
  • Bromated flour
  • Corn
  • Corn fiber
  • Degerminated cornmeal
  • Durum flour
  • Farina
  • Grits
  • Malted barley flour
  • Oat fiber
  • Potato flour
  • Rice flour
  • Semolina
  • Stone ground corn
  • Wheat flour
  • White flour
  • Yellow corn flour
  • Yellow cornmeal

Tips!: Seeds (such as pumpkin, squash, sesame, sunflower, chia, and flax seed) credit toward the meats/meat alternates (M/MA) component, not toward the grains component, even if these seeds are used in grain products. The USDA Food Buying Guide (FBG), available as a mobile application and accessible on the USDA FBG for Child Nutrition Programs web page External link opens in new window or tab. includes some, but not all, seeds that credit toward the an M/MA component.

Bean and potato flours are not creditable toward the grains component; however, they may be creditable toward the vegetable or M/MA components. For more information, access the USDA FBG for CNPs web page External link opens in new window or tab. and the USDA Policy Memo SP 26-2019, CACFP 13-2019, SFSP 12-2019 Revised, Crediting Pasta Products Made of Vegetable Flour in the CNPs web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Questions:   CACFP Meal Pattern Team | | 800-952-5609 Option 5
Last Reviewed: Thursday, December 24, 2020
Related Content
Recently Posted in Nutrition
  • 2021 Taste of CA Challenge Grant Recipients (added 03-May-2021)
    The California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division awarded 20 Taste of California Standardized Recipe Challenge Grantees.
  • Meal Programs (updated 29-Apr-2021)
    CalEdFacts on the Child Nutrition Program meal programs.
  • CACFP Resources for Crediting Grains as Oz Eq (added 27-Apr-2021)
    Announcement of California Department of Education resources to provide guidance to Child and Adult Care Food Program Operators on crediting grains as ounce equivalents.
  • CA LSWP Webinar: SNPs and Student Mental Health (added 27-Apr-2021)
    The California Local School Wellness Policy Collaborative is hosting Winning at Wellness webinars every two months to provide an opportunity for schools to discuss updates in local school wellness policy requirements, best practices and resources.
  • COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #83 (added 23-Apr-2021)
    This waiver allows sponsors that successfully participated in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, but did not operate in 2020, due to COVID-19, to operate as experienced sponsors in FY 2021.

  • COVID-19 Response Nationwide Waivers SY 21-22 (added 23-Apr-2021)
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service has released COVID-19 Response Nationwide Waivers for school year 2021-2022.
  • Creating Brave Spaces in Early Childhood Webinars (added 23-Apr-2021)
    Creating Brave Spaces in Early Childhood Webinar Series, with Superintendent Tony Thurmond, discusses research on racial bias and its disproportionate effect on children of color.
  • Reimbursement for Emergency Shelters (added 20-Apr-2021)
    Reimbursement for Emergency Shelters during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency for CACFP meals served to young adults.
  • Proposition 12 FAQs for Stakeholders (added 19-Apr-2021)
    The CDE NSD is sharing the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s newly posted Frequently Asked Questions related to Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative which effects raw egg and pork products received in California.
  • Senate Bill 138: Universal Meal Service (added 19-Apr-2021)
    The law requires that Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) with very high poverty schools apply to operate a federal universal meal service provision each school year.