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Lunch Meal Pattern: Short and Long Weeks

Meal pattern requirements for short and long weeks for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) for grades K–12.

Overview

Program operators of the NSLP and School Breakfast Program (SBP) are required to use meal patterns and dietary specifications established by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop menus and serve meals to students. Short and long week meal pattern charts have been established for schools that regularly operate on a shorter or longer weekly cycle. The following charts adjust the meal pattern components for short and long weeks and are rounded to nearest ½ oz eq and ¼ cup. Since the dietary specifications are based on average daily amounts, these are unaffected by varying week lengths (average over length of week, whether consisting of 3 to 7 days). Due to the size of the weekly vegetable subgroup requirements, adjustments are primarily made to the Additional Vegetable category which in turn allows increased or decreased offering amounts of any of the subgroups to meet this requirement.

Meal Pattern Requirements

Measurement abbreviations: Cup = c, Ounce Equivalent = oz eq, Calories = kcal, Grams = g, and Milligrams = mg

Three Day School Week Meal Component Adjustments

Minimum Amount of Fooda Per Week

Meal Components Grades
K–5
Grades
K–8
Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12
Fruits b 1 ½ c
(½ c per day)
1 ½ c
(½ c per day)
1 ½ c
(½ c per day)
3 c
(1 c per day)
Vegetables b 2 ¼ c
(¾ c per day)
2 ¼ c
(¾ c per day)
2 ¼ c
(¾ c per day)
3 c
(1 c per day)
Dark Green c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Red/Orange c ½ c ½ c ½ c 1 c
Beans and Peas (legumes) c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Starchy c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Other  c, d ¼ c ¼ c ¼ c ½ c
Additional Vegetable to Reach Total e 0 0 0 0
Grain Minimums *, f 5-5.5 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
5-5.5 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
5-6 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
6-7 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Meats/Meat Alternate Minimums* 5-6 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
5.5-6 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
5.5-6 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
6-7 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Fluid Milk g 3 c
(1 c per day)
3 c
(1 c per day)
3 c
(1 c per day)
3 c
(1 c per day)

 

Four Day School Week Meal Component Adjustments

Minimum Amount of Fooda Per Week

Meal Components Grades
K–5
Grades
K–8
Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12
Fruits b 2 c
(½ c per day)
2 c
(½ c per day)
2 c
(½ c per day)
4 c
(1 c per day)
Vegetables b 3 c
(¾ c per day)
3 c
(¾ c per day)
3 c
(¾ c per day)
4 c
(1 c per day)
Dark Green c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Red/Orange c ¾ c ¾ c ¾ c 1 ¼ c
Beans and Peas (legumes) c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Starchy c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Other  c, d ½ c ½ c ½ c ¾ c
Additional Vegetable to Reach Total e ¼ c ¼ c ¼ c ½ c
Grain Minimums *, f 6.5-7 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
6.5-7 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
6.5-8 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
8-9.5 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Meats/Meat Alternate Minimums* 6.5-8 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
7-8 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
7-8 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
8-9.5 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Fluid Milk g 4 c
(1 c per day)
4 c
(1 c per day)
4 c
(1 c per day)
4 c
(1 c per day)

 

Six Day School Week Meal Component Adjustments

Minimum Amount of Fooda Per Week

Meal Components Grades
K–5
Grades
K–8
Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12
Fruits b 3 c
(½ c per day)
3 c
(½ c per day)
3 c
(½ c per day)
6 c
(1 c per day)
Vegetables b 4 ½ c
(¾ c per day)
4 ½ c
(¾ c per day)
4 ½ c
(¾ c per day)
6 c
(1 c per day)
Dark Green c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Red/Orange c ¾ c ¾ c ¾ c 1 ¼ c
Beans and Peas (legumes) c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Starchy c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Other  c, d ½ c ½ c ½ c ¾ c
Additional Vegetable to Reach Total e 1 ¾ c 1 ¾ c 1 ¾ c 2 ½ c
Grain Minimums *, f 9.5-11 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
9.5-11 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
9.5-12 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
12-14.5 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Meats/Meat Alternate Minimums* 9.5-12 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
11-12 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
11-12 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
12-14.5 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Fluid Milk g 6 c
(1 c per day)
6 c
(1 c per day)
6 c
(1 c per day)
6 c
(1 c per day)

 

Seven Day School Week Meal Component Adjustments

Minimum Amount of Fooda Per Week

Meal Components Grades
K–5
Grades
K–8
Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12
Fruits b 3 ½ c
(½ c per day)
3 ½ c
(½ c per day)
3 ½ c
(½ c per day)
7 c
(1 c per day)
Vegetables b

5 ¼ c
(¾ c per day)

5 ¼ c
(¾ c per day)

5 ¼ c
(¾ c per day)

7 c
(1 c per day)
Dark Green c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Red/Orange c ¾ c ¾ c ¾ c 1 ¼ c
Beans and Peas (legumes) c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Starchy c ½ c ½ c ½ c ½ c
Other  c, d ½ c ½ c ½ c ¾ c
Additional Vegetable to Reach Total e 2 ½ c 2 ½ c 2 ½ c 3 ½ c
Grain Minimums *, f 11-12.5 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
11-12.5 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
11-14 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
14-17 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Meats/Meat Alternate Minimums* 11-14 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
12.5-14 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
12.5-14 oz eq
(1 oz eq per day)
14-17 oz eq
(2 oz eq per day)
Fluid Milk g 7 c
(1 c per day)
7 c
(1 c per day)
7 c
(1 c per day)
7 c
(1 c per day)

Dietary Specifications

Specifications Grades
K–5
Grades
K–8
Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12
Min-max Calories h 550–650 kcal 600–650 kcal 600–700 kcal 750–850 kcal
Saturated Fat (% of calories) h < 10% < 10% < 10% < 10%
Sodium Target 2 h, i ≤ 935 mg ≤ 935 mg ≤ 1,035 mg ≤ 1,080 mg
Trans Fat h, j 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g

 

* USDA has lifted the weekly maximums for grain and meat/meat alternates. The daily and weekly minimums for grains and meat/meat alternates still apply. The maximums are used as a guide for menu planning purposes only.

a Food items included in each group and subgroup and amount equivalents as outlined in the most current USDA Food Buying Guide web page External link opens in new window or tab..

b One quarter cup of dried fruit counts as ½ cup of fruit; one cup of leafy greens counts as ½ cup of vegetables. No more than half of the fruit or vegetable offerings may be in the form of juice. All juice must be 100 percent full-strength. The minimum creditable serving for a fruit or vegetable is at least 1/8 cup.

c Larger amounts of these vegetables may be served.

d This category consists of “Other Vegetables” as defined in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR) Section 210.10(c)(2)(iii)(E). For the purposes of the NSLP, the “Other Vegetables” requirement may be met with any additional amounts from the dark green, red/orange, and beans/peas (legumes) vegetable subgroups as defined in 7 CFR, Section 210.10(c)(2)(iii).

e Any vegetable subgroup may be offered to meet the total weekly vegetable requirement.

f All grains offered weekly must be whole grain rich.

g At least two milk choices must be offered. Pasteurized, fluid types of milk that meet state and local standards and contain vitamins A and D at levels specified by the Food and Drug Administration must be offered. All milk must be fat-free or low-fat. Milk with higher fat content is not allowed. Fat-free fluid milk may be flavored or unflavored, and low-fat fluid milk must be unflavored. Low-fat or fat-free, lactose-free, and reduced-lactose fluid milk may also be offered.

h Discretionary sources of calories (solid fats and added sugars) may be added to the meal pattern if within the specifications for calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. Food products and ingredients must contain zero grams of trans fat (less than 0.5 grams) per serving.

i Sodium Target 2 is effective from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2022, and is contained in 7 CFR, Section 210.10 (c).

j Nutrition label of manufacturer specifications must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving.

Please note: For offer versus serve, every student must take ½ cup fruit and or vegetable or combination of both to count as a reimbursable meal.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, February 23, 2021
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