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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.

Overview

On January 26, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs final rule External link opens in new window or tab. outlining nutrition standards for sponsors participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The nutrition standards align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to reflect evidence-based nutrition science. The meal pattern requirements went into effect October 1, 2013 and were implemented in phases. This web page was updated as of December 2018.

Meal Pattern Requirements for Breakfast and Lunch

Infant

Breakfast and Lunch Meal Pattern for Infants External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A Quick Reference Chart with the meal pattern requirements for the SBP and NSLP for infant's age birth to 11 months.

Preschool

Breakfast Meal Pattern for Preschool External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A quick reference chart with the meal pattern requirements for the SBP for 1-5 year old students (page 1).

Lunch Meal Pattern for Preschool External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A quick reference chart with the meal pattern requirements for the NSLP for 1-5 year old students (page 2).

Grades K-12

Breakfast Meal Pattern for Grades K-12
A quick reference chart with the meal pattern requirements for the SBP for grades K-12.

Lunch Meal Pattern for Grades K-12
A quick reference chart with the meal pattern requirements for the NSLP grades K-12

Meal Pattern for Breakfast and Lunch: Short and Long Weeks for Grades K-12
A quick reference chart with the meal pattern requirements for regular operating short and long weeks for both the NSLP and SBP for grades K-12.

Additional Meal Pattern Information

Vegetable Subgroup List for Breakfast and Lunch for Grades K-12
The list of vegetables found in each of the required vegetable subgroup categories for the NSLP and SBP

Sodium Reduction: Timeline and Amount External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
A timeline with the specific grade group, target and amount of sodium allowed in the NSLP and SBP.

Online Trainings

This section includes online trainings that assist participants in the NSLP and SBP in implementing the meal pattern requirements.

Nutrition

Course
Number
Course
Name
Training
Topic
040
General Nutrition
100
Menu Planning
131
Menu Planning
169
Menu Planning
173
General Nutrition
226
Menu Planning
812
General Nutrition
894
Menu Planning

 

Operations

Course
Number
Course Name Training Topic
130
Food Production

 

Communication and Marketing

Course
Number
Course
Name
Training
Topic
875
Communications and Marketing
150
Communications and Marketing

Additional Online Training Databases

To find additional online training databases, visit the:

For more related meal pattern online trainings, you can visit the California Department of Education (CDE) Child Nutrition Program Course Catalog.

Resources

The School Nutrition Program Primer External link opens in new window or tab.
The School Nutrition Primer is a web-based resource that serves as an introductory resource for new sponsors and helps ensure success and compliance with federal and state regulations. In addition, the resources and tools assist new staff and existing sponsors with the program requirements.

San Jose State University Cal-Pro-NET Outreach Toolkit Web page External link opens in new window or tab.
The Outreach Toolkit is an online resource created to help school meal programs promote the delicious, fresh meals served to California schoolchildren. The Outreach Toolkit includes a variety of no-cost/low-cost resources for every district, regardless of size or finances, to promote school nutrition programs, improve the perception of school meals, and increase meal participation. You do not have to be a marketing expert to work with the resources in the Outreach Toolkit. Visit the Web page to get started!

Food Buying Guide External link opens in new window or tab.
The USDA’s online manual to assists sponsors in buying the appropriate amount and type of food and to determine the specific contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements for the NSLP and SBP.

Exhibit A: School Lunch and Breakfast External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
The USDA’s Exhibit A provides a list of grains and quantities to determine the ounce equivalents of whole grain and whole grain- rich food items used in the NSLP and SBP.

Offer Versus Serve: Guidance for the NSLP and the SBP External link opens in new window or tab.
The USDA’s online manual for SY 2015–16 assisting with the implementation of Offer Versus Serve (OVS). OVS allows students to decline some of the food offered in a reimbursable lunch or breakfast. This is the latest version of the OVS manual.

Whole Grain Resource Guide External link opens in new window or tab.
The USDA's guide for meeting the whole grain-rich criteria for school meals. It includes exercises on identifying products that meet the whole grain-rich criteria and calculation examples.

Menu Production Record (MPR) Forms
Example forms used by food service to determine the amount of food to serve for menu production.

Information Required on MPR
The information required to include on the MPR.

Standardized Recipe Form (PDF)
Example forms used by food service that describes the exact, measurable amount of ingredients and the method of preparation needed to consistently produce a high-quality food product.

USDA Approved Software External link opens in new window or tab.
The USDA made available a list of nutrient analysis software approved for use in the NSLP and SBP.

Medical Statement to Request Special Meals and/or Accommodation (DOC)
This form is used by parents/guardians to have a medical authority prescribe special meals or accommodations during meals in the NSLP and SBP.

Fresh Voices on Healthy School Meals Video External link opens in new window or tab.
This 5-minute video from the USDA presents students, school, and cafeteria personnel giving their views on the new standards for healthier school meals, based on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Compliance

The CDE monitors compliance with the meal pattern during the Administrative Review (AR). ARs occur approximately every three years. The CDE provides technical assistance when the standards are not met. There will be an off site assessment (OAT) and an on-site review. Please see the following AR guidance:

  • Administrative Review Off-site Assessment Tool (OAT) Guidance
    Sponsors are required to fill out the OAT prior to the on-site review. To download the OAT guidance in Child Nutrition Information and Payment System External link opens in new window or tab. (CNIPS), select School Nutrition Programs (SNP), select applications, downloadable forms, and Form ID SNP 58 AR. For meal pattern information, refer to page 13 and questions numbered 600–602.

  • Administrative Review Guidance Chart
    Once the OAT is completed, the AR reviewer conducts an on-site review to validate the information submitted in the OAT and to observe the operation of programs at the SFA and in selected schools. Prior to the on-site AR, the state reviewer sends sponsors the Administrative Review Guidance Chart, so sponsors can prepare all required documents for the on-site AR. To download the guidance chart in CNIPS, click SNP, select applications, downloadable forms, and Form ID SNP 42. For meal pattern information, refer to pages 6–9.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Administrative Review Manual 2018–19
    USDA/Food and Nutrition Service provides general guidance to state agencies on the areas of review. For complete transparency and to download the AR Manual in CNIPS, click SNP, select applications, downloadable forms, and Form ID MANUAL AR. For meal pattern information, refer to pages 66-109.
For more information regarding Administrative Reviews, you can visit the CDE’s School Nutrition Programs Administrative Review web page.

Policy Guidance

The USDA and CDE issued the following policy memoranda related to the meal pattern on the NSLP and SBP. When merited, the CDE will release a subsequent management bulletin (MB) to include state specific policy guidance and/or further explain or clarify the topic.

Calendar Year 2018

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number
6/2018 The CDE Meal Pattern School Meal Flexibilities for School Year 2018-19 SNP-13-2018
2/2018 The CDE Donation of Leftover Food Guidance on the Donation of leftover Food in the Child Nutrition Programs CNP-02-2018
2/2018 The CDE The Use of Share Tables The Use of Share Tables CNP-03-2018

 

Calendar Year 2017

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number
9/2017 The CDE Meal Pattern Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products in the Child Nutrition Programs CNP-09-2017
8/2017 The CDE Meal Patterns Child and Adult Care Food Program New Meal Patterns Requirements, Compliance, and Resources CNP-06-2017
3/2017 The CDE Special Dietary Needs Modifications to Accommodate Disabilities in School Meal Programs SNP-02-2017
2/2017 The CDE Potable Water Availability of Potable Water to Children and Allowable Costs SNP-05-2017
1/2017 The USDA School Meal Flexibilities Flexibility for the Target 2 Sodium Requirements for SY 17-18 External link opens in new window or tab. SP15-2017

 

Calendar Year 2016

Release Date Issued
by
Topic Subject Reference Number
6/2016 The CDE Fluid Milk Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk SNP-13-2016

 

Calendar Year 2015

Release Date Issued
by
Topic Subject Reference Number
9/2015 The CDE Meal Service Smoothies in the Child Nutrition Programs - Revised CNP-11-2015
8/2015 The USDA Questions and Answers Questions & Answers on the Final Rule, Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (v.9) External link opens in new window or tab. SP10-2012
7/2015 The CDE Product Documentation Guidance for Accepting Processed Product Documentation for Meal Pattern Requirements CNP-07-2015
5/2015 The CDE CN Labels CN Labels Copied with a Watermark CNP-08-2015

 

Calendar Year 2014

Release Date Issued
by
Topic Subject Reference Number
1/2014 The CDE Meals Variations in Meal Requirements for Religious Reasons: Jewish Schools, Institutions, and Sponsors CNP-04-2014

 

Calendar Year 2013

Release Date Issued
by
Topic Subject Reference Number
8/2013 The CDE Salad Bars Salad Bar Alternatives After the Point of Service USDA-SNP-19-2013
03/2013 The USDA Final Rule Nutrition Standards in the NSLP and the SBP - Final Rule External link opens in new window or tab. SP 31-2013
1/2013 The CDE Whole grain-rich items Corn Masa (Dough) for Child, Shells, and Tamales USDA-SNP-01-2013

 

Calendar Year 2012

Release Date Issued
by
Topic Subject Reference Number
11/2012 The CDE Vegetarian Meals Vegetarian Options in School Meals NSD-SNP-17-2012
7/2012 The CDE Grain Requirements Grain Requirements for the NSLP and SBP USDA-SNP-28-2012
7/2012 The CDE Meal Pattern Crediting Formulated Grain Fruit Products USDA-SNP-31-2012

 

Calendar Year 2011 and prior

Release Date Issued
by
Topic Subject Reference Number
4/2011 The CDE Meal Pattern Crediting Shelf-Stable, Dried Snacks in the Child Nutrition Programs USDA-CNP-06-2011
2/2008 The CDE Meal Pattern Crediting Crediting of Corn Meal and Corn Flour USDA-CNP-01-2008

 

Questions and Answers

The USDA released policy memoranda SP 10-2012 (version 9): Question and Answers on the Final Rule to provide guidance and clarification on the meal pattern.

Release Date Issued
by
Subject Reference Number
August 2015 The USDA SP 10-2012 (v.9): Questions & Answers on the Final Rule, Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP10-2012 (V.9)

 

Contact

For questions regarding the meal pattern, contact the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division (NSD) Meal Pattern team by e-mail at HHFKA@cde.ca.gov. To join the NSD's mailing list, you can subscribe to the School Nutrition Program Mailing List.

Follow @CDENutrition on Twitter.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, December 6, 2018
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