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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

Program operators of the National School Lunch Program (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. The nutrition standards align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to reflect evidence-based nutrition science.The USDA is taking a multi-step approach to update the school meal nutrition standards. The final rule, Transitional Standards for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium serves as a bridge for School Years 2022–23 and 2023–24, and is effective July 1, 2022. On March 2, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued Policy Memorandum (memo) SP 05-2022: Meal Requirements Under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Questions and Answers (Q&A) for Program Operators Updated to Support the Transitional Standards for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Effective July 1, 2022. This policy memo is available on the USDA’s School Meals Policy web page External link opens in new window or tab..

Meal Pattern Requirements for Breakfast and Lunch

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

Breakfast Meal Pattern: Short and Long Weeks
A quick reference chart with the meal pattern requirements for regularly operating short and long weeks for the SBP for grades K–12.

Lunch Meal Pattern: Short and Long Weeks
A quick reference chart with the meal pattern requirements for regularly operating short and long weeks for the NSLP 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.

Milk Requirements in the Child Nutrition Programs
The milk requirements for the child nutrition programs, including the meal pattern requirements, types of milks offered, milk substitute forms, nutrient standards for milk substitutes, policy guidance, frequently asked questions, and contacts.

Online Trainings

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

Nutrition

Operations

Course Number Course Name Training Topic
130
Food Production

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

Guides, Manuals, and Worksheets
Forms
Whole Grain Resources
Recipe Resources
Salad Bar Resources
Nutrition Education Resources
General Resources

Guides, Manuals, and Worksheets

Resource Description
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Analysis Protocols: How to Analyze Menus for USDA’s School Meals Programs (NAP Manual) External link opens in new window or tab. The online manual includes processes for selecting nutrient analysis software, obtaining nutrient analysis of menus, and guidance calculating nutrient analysis of menus offered in NSLP and SBP.
The online manual 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.
CDE Food Buying Guide Calculator web page Provides the steps for using the USDA Food Buying Guide Calculator to determine required quantities of foods to purchase to meet the meal pattern requirements.
The 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.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Serving Up a Successful School Breakfast Program External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction developed a guide for implementing school breakfast programs called Serving Up a Successful School Breakfast Program.
The certification worksheets to assist in determining if your menu is meeting the requirements.
A list of nutrient analysis software approved for use in the NSLP and SBP.
Fact sheets categorized by food type that describe the items expected to be available for schools participating in the NSLP and SBP.

Forms

Resource Description
The California Department of Education (CDE) Menu Production Record (MPR) Forms
Example forms used by food service personnel to determine the amount of food to serve for menu production.
The information required on the MPR.
These example forms are 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.
This form identifies the information required to implement a sound nutrition plan for children with food-related disabilities

Whole Grain Resources

Resource Description

USDA Whole Grain Resource Guide - Coming Soon

A 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.

USDA Exhibit A: School Lunch and Breakfast External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

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. Note that this resource has not yet been updated to reflect the final rule on Transitional Meal Standards for School Years 2022–23 and 2023–24.

Recipe Resources

Resource Description
A collection of California school district culinary center recipes. Each recipe includes a photo, student taste tasting score, contribution to the meal pattern, and nutrient analysis.
A collection of standardized recipes that provide crediting information, including the vegetable subgroups. They also include recipes made with legumes, whole grains, and/or dark green, red, and/or orange vegetables.
The Humane Society of the United States Forward Food Recipes External link opens in new window or tab.
A collection of healthy, delicious, meat-free plant-strong recipes with grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits created by their classically trained chef.

Chef Ann Foundation Plant Forward Recipes External link opens in new window or tab.

A collection of student tasted and approved plant-forward recipes, which includes the ingredients, instructions, and contribution to the meal pattern.

Salad Bar Resources

Resource Description
Salad Bars in SNPs Information about salad bars in the NSLP and SBP, including policy changes, resources, website links, and updated USDA Q&A.
An assortment of information, resources, and training materials to assist with salad bar implementation.
Chef Ann Foundation Salad Bars to Schools External link opens in new window or tab. Information about applying for funding to receive salad bar equipment.
Minnesota Department of Health Field Guide to Salad Bars in Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Information about applying for funding to receive salad bar equipment.

 

Nutrition Education Resources

Resource Description
California Department of Public Health Harvest of the Month web page External link opens in new window or tab.
Education materials that feature 36 California grown fruits and vegetables including free parent newsletters and posters.
USDA Team Nutrition External link opens in new window or tab. Information and resources to support the Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance for foodservice and nutrition education. Free USDA Team Nutrition materials are available to school nutrition professionals and are designed to motivate children into making healthier choices in the cafeteria and beyond.

General Resources

Resource Description
USDA Crediting Fruits in the Child Nutrition Program and Crediting Vegetables in the Child Nutrition Program External link opens in new window or tab. These two tip sheets address Child Nutrition Program requirements for fruits and vegetables and provide basic crediting information.

USDA Fresh Voices on Healthy School Meals Video External link opens in new window or tab. (Video; 5:35)

This 5-minute video presents students, schools, and cafeteria personnel giving their views on the new standards for healthier school meals, based on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Information and resources for preventing plate waste.
Information and resources to implement the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement principles that use low or no-cost solutions to promote healthful eating behaviors and reduce waste.
Information and resources for preventing plate waste.
State of California CalRecycle School Waste Reduction web page External link opens in new window or tab.
Information and resources for waste reduction and recycling.
Information about the rules for competitive foods in California.
Information about accommodating children with disabilities in the school nutrition programs.
CDE Milk Requirements in the Child Nutrition Programs web page Information about the milk requirements for the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP), including the meal pattern requirements, types of milks to offer, milk substitute forms, nutrient standards for milk, policy guidance, FAQs, and contacts.

Compliance

The California Department of Education (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 (CNIPS) External link opens in new window or tab., select School Nutrition Programs (SNP), select applications, downloadable forms, and Form ID SNP 58 AR. For meal pattern information, refer to page 11 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, select SNP, select applications, downloadable forms, and Form ID SNP 42. For meal pattern information, refer to pages 6–9.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 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, select 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Education (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 2022

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number
3/2022 The USDA Meal Pattern Meal Requirements Under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Questions and Answers for Program Operators Updated to Support the Transitional Standards for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Effective July 1, 2022

SP 05-2022

3/2022 The USDA Meal Pattern Question and Answer Guidance on the Final Rule Child Nutrition Programs: Transitional Standards for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Effective July 1, 2022 SP 04-2022

Calendar Year 2020

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number
2/2020 The CDE Smoothies Smoothies Offered in Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) CNP-04-2020
11/2020 The CDE Salad Bars

Salad Bars in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program

SNP-03-2020

Calendar Year 2019

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number
9/2019 The USDA Salad Bars Salad Bars in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program SP 41-2019
9/2019 The USDA Questions and Answers Questions & Answers on Meal Requirements under the NSLP and SBP External link opens in new window or tab. SP 38-2019
8/2019 The USDA Crediting Updates for CNPs Crediting Coconut, Hominy, Corn Masa, and Masa Harina in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP 34-2019
7/2019 The USDA Donated Traditional Foods and Civil Liability Farm Bill Implementation Memo: Donated Traditional Foods and Civil Liability External link opens in new window or tab. SP 31-2019
4/2019

The USDA

Crediting Updates for CNPs Crediting Pasta Products Made of Vegetable Flour in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP 26-2019
4/2019 The USDA Crediting Updates for CNPs Crediting Tempeh in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP 25-2019
4/2019 The USDA Crediting Updates for CNPs Crediting Surimi Seafood in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP 24-2019
4/2019 The USDA Crediting Updates for CNPs Crediting Popcorn in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP 23-2019
4/2019 The USDA Crediting Updates for CNPs Crediting Shelf-Stable, Dried and Semi-Dried Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Products in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP 21-2019

Calendar Year 2018

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number
12/2018 The USDA Meal Pattern Crediting Update of Food Crediting in the Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab. SP 08-2019, CACFP 02-2019, SFSP 02-2019
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 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
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. (PDF) SP 15-2017

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
7/2015 The USDA Child Nutrition Programs and Traditional Foods Child Nutrition Programs and Traditional Foods External link opens in new window or tab. TA 01-2015
7/2015 The CDE Product Documentation Guidance for Accepting Processed Product Documentation for Meal Pattern Requirements CNP-07-2015
5/2015 The CDE Product Documentation 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
3/2013 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

Calendar Year 2012

Release Date Issued by Topic Subject Reference Number
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
2/2008 The CDE Meal Pattern Crediting Crediting of Corn Meal and Corn Flour USDA-CNP-01-2008

To view all of the policy memos related to the School Nutrition Programs (SNP), visit the USDA School Meals web page External link opens in new window or tab..

To view all management bulletins related to SNP, visit the CDE School Nutrition Programs Management Bulletins web page.

Questions and Answers

Release Date Issued
by
Subject Reference Number
9/2019 The USDA

Smoothies Offered in Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab.. This memorandum provides updated guidance on smoothies served in the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) and supersedes all previous guidance on smoothies including SP 10-2014 (v.3), CACFP 05-2014 (v.3), SFSP 10-2014 (v.3). Additionally, this guidance contains Questions & Answers on offering smoothies in the CNPs.

SP 40-2019, CACFP 17-2019, SFSP 17-2019

 

Contacts

For questions regarding the meal pattern, contact the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division (NSD) Meal Pattern team by email 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, June 23, 2022
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