Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Lunch Meal Pattern (Grades K-12)


Amount of Fooda Per Week (Minimum Per Day)
Meal Pattern Grades
K–5
Grades
K–8
Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12

Fruits (cups)b

2½ (½)

2½ (½)

2½ (½)

5 (1)

Vegetables (cups)b

3¾ (¾)

3¾ (¾)

3¾ (¾)

5 (1)

Dark Greenc

½

½

½

½

Red/Orangec

¾

¾

¾

Beans and Peas (legumes)c

½

½

½

½

Starchyc

½

½

½

½

Other c,d

½

½

½

¾

Additional Veg to Reach Totale

1e

1e

1e

e

Grain Minimums (oz eq)f

8-9 (1)*

8-9 (1)*

8-10 (1)*

10-12 (2)*

Meats/Meat Alternate Minimums (oz eq)

8-10 (1)*

9-10 (1)*

9-10 (1)*

10-12 (2)*

Fluid Milk (Cups)g

5 (1)

5 (1)

5 (1)

5 (1)

Other Specifications: Daily Amount Based on the Average for a 5-Day Week
Meal Pattern Grades
K–5
Grades
K–8
Grades
6–8
Grades
9–12

Min-max calories (kcal)h

550–650

600–650

600–700

750–850

Saturated fat (% of calories)h

< 10

< 10

< 10

< 10

Sodium Target 1 (mg)h,l

≤ 1,230

≤ 1,230

≤ 1,360

≤ 1,420

Sodium Target 2 (mg)h,l
(Optional)
≤ 935
935
1,035
1,080

Trans Fath: Nutrition label or manufacturer specifications must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving.

*U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 maximum are used as a guide for menu planning purposes only.

a. Food items included in each group and subgroup and amount equivalents. Minimum creditable serving is ⅛ cup.

b. One quarter-cup of dried fruit counts as ½ cup of fruit; 1 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% full-strength.

c. Larger amounts of these vegetables may be served.

d. This category consists of “Other vegetables” as defined in §210.10(c)(2)(iii)(E) . For
the purposes of the National School Lunch Program, 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 §210.10(c)(2)(iii).

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

f. All grains must be whole grain-rich.

g. All fluid milk must be either 1 percent milk fat or fat-free (unflavored or flavored).

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.

i. Target 1 sodium levels must be met. The Target 2 sodium level is optional; however, schools are encouraged to continue to reduce sodium levels.

Please note: For offer versus serve, every student must take 1/2 cup fruit and/or vegetable or combination of both to count as a reimbursable meal.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, December 6, 2018
Related Content
  • Meal Patterns & Menu Planning
    Information and resources on the federally mandated meal patterns, menu planning options, and meal documentation requirements for all child nutrition programs.
  • Menu Production Record Forms
    Forms used to determine the amount of food to serve for menu production.
  • NSLP and SBP Meal Patterns
    Includes meal pattern requirements, online trainings, resources, compliance, policy guidance, and questions and answers for sponsors participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
Recently Posted in Nutrition
  • DoD Allocation Schedule/List (added 21-Jun-2019)
    Department of Defense (DoD) offering schedule for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foods delivered from the State Distribution Centers (SDC) with allocations and estimated fair market values. Prices are subject to change.
  • SNP Professional Standards: Job Categories (added 19-Jun-2019)
    The School Nutrition Programs Professional Standards: Job Categories online training course.
  • 2019–20 DCH Expansion Funds RFA (added 10-Jun-2019)
    Management Bulletin CACFP-07-2019: 2019–20 Day Care Home Expansion Funds Request for Applications.
  • Civil Rights and Complaints (added 30-May-2019)
    The Child Nutrition Programs Civil Rights and Complaints online training.
  • Plant-Based Meal Options in CNPs (updated 24-May-2019)
    Includes definitions, background, health benefit information, how to take action, resources, online trainings, and policy guidance for program operators participating in the Child Nutrition Programs and interested in offering plant-based meals.