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Determining Whole Grain-rich Products in the CACFP

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


This web page provides guidance for identifying WGR items in the CACFP. Additional guidance is available in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memoranda CACFP 09-2018 Grain Requirements in the CACFP; Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) and 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, the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) Management Bulletin CACFP 02-2018, Documenting Meals in the CACFP on the California Department of Education (CDE) CACFP Bulletins web page, and the Adding Whole Grains to Your CACFP Menu Training Worksheet on the USDA CACFP Meal Pattern (MP) 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: October 2019

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 items that meet the WGR criteria in the CACFP are foods that contain at least 50 percent whole grains and the remaining grains are enriched grains, bran, or germ.

Whole Grain-Rich Food Item Criteria

To be considered a WGR food item 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 are not sufficient to determine if a grain product meets the WGR criteria because they may contain high amounts of noncreditable grains.

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

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

TIP!: CACFP Operators cannot apply the NSLP WGR criteria for 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. For example, a CN label that reads 0.5 oz equivalents grains. If the CN label lists enriched in parenthesis, 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 food.

  • 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 Rule of Three, where the first three grain ingredients are evaluated.

  • 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
  • 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
  • Oat groats
  • Old fashioned oats
  • Quick cooking oats
  • 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
  • Whole corn
  • Whole durum flour
  • Whole einkorn berries
  • Whole grain (WG) corn
  • WG corn flour
  • WG einkorn flour
  • WG oat flour
  • WG spelt flour
  • WG wheat flakes
  • Whole rye flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Wild rice
Enriched Grains

Enriched grains may be the second or third grain ingredient

  • Enriched bromated flour
  • Enriched corn flour
  • Enriched durum flour
  • Enriched durum wheat flour
  • Enriched grits
  • Enriched rice
  • Enriched rice flour
  • Enriched rye 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
  • Any nut flour
  • 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

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


If you have questions, please contact the California Department of Education, Nutrition Services Division by phone at 800-952-5690 or by email at

Questions:   CACFP New Meal Pattern Team |
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, December 24, 2019
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