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SFSP Meal Patterns Guidance and Sample Menus

Includes guidance and sample menus to provide Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Operators with ideas for how to serve meals that meet the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) meal pattern requirements.

SFSP Meal Pattern Requirements for all Meals and Snacks

All meals served in the SFSP must meet certain requirements in order to receive reimbursement. These meal pattern requirements, outlined in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Part 225.16(d) External link opens in new window or tab., are designed to help the menu planner provide well-balanced, healthy meals that meet the nutritional and energy needs of children.

CNP Operators preparing meals and snacks using the SFSP meal patterns must serve the minimum required components and food items for each meal type as listed below. A food component is one of the food groups that comprise a reimbursable meal: (1) milk, (2) fruit/vegetable, (3) grains/bread, and (4) meats/meat alternates (M/MA). A food item is a specific food offered within the food component.

  • Breakfast: CNP Operators must serve one food item from the milk, fruit/vegetable, and grains/bread components.

  • Lunch/Supper: CNP Operators must serve one food item from the milk, grains/bread, and M/MA components and two food items from the fruit/vegetable component.

  • Snack: CNP Operators must serve one food item from two of the four components (milk, fruit/vegetable, grains/bread, and M/MA).

CNP Operators have the option to serve extras, which are additional foods beyond the meal pattern requirements. Extras such as condiments (e.g., catsup, salad dressing) can improve the palatability of the reimbursable meal. Extras, such as additional grains, fruits, and water, provide hydration and/or additional calories to help satisfy children’s appetites. For more information on using program funds for extras, reference the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memo, SFSP 06-2012: Serving Additional Foods in SFSP External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

CNP Operators serving meals using the SFSP meal pattern must comply with the following requirements for all meals and snacks:

  • Fruits/Vegetables:

    • Dried fruits credit based on the volume served. For example, ¼ cup (c) raisins equals ¼ c fruit.

    • Raw leafy green vegetables credit based on the volume served. For example, ¼ c lettuce equals ¼ c vegetable.

    • Juice must be 100 percent (full-strength), pasteurized juice.

  • Milk: Allowable types are pasteurized, unflavored or flavored whole milk, reduced-fat milk, low-fat milk, fat-free milk, buttermilk, lactose-reduced milk, or acidophilus milk. CNP Operators are only required to serve one type of milk.

    • Milk substitutes (e.g., nondairy soy beverages) must meet the minimum nutrient standards in 7 CFR, Part 210.10(d)(3) External link opens in new window or tab..

    • CNP Operators who are unable to obtain fluid milk on a temporary or continuing basis may contact their program specialist, located in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS), to request a waiver to not provide fluid milk, or to provide reconstituted nonfat dry (powdered) milk, during breakfast, lunch, and supper. CNP Operators are allowed to serve shelf-stable milk without the need to request a waiver from the CDE.

  • Grains/Breads: Must be made with whole grain, enriched grain, bran, or germ. Cereals must be fortified or made with whole grain, enriched grain, bran, or germ. CNP Operators should reference the USDA Exhibit A: Grain Requirements for CNP Operators External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) to determine the minimum amount various grain products must weigh to provide one serving. For example, cereal bars, breakfast, bars, and granola bars must weigh 50 grams (g) or 1.8 ounces (oz) to provide one serving.

  • Meat/Meat Alternate:

    • Dry beans and peas (legumes) cannot be credited as both a vegetable and an M/MA within the same meal.

    • Yogurt may be plain or flavored, unsweetened or sweetened.

    • Processed single-component M/MA foods (e.g., dried meat products, canned meats, most luncheon meats, and commercially packaged hummus [also creditable toward the vegetable component]) must be accompanied by a Child Nutrition (CN) Label or a manufacturer’s product formulation statement (PFS), providing information about the contribution of the M/MA component to the meal pattern.

  • Commercially Prepared Combination Foods: Must either be listed in the USDA Food Buying Guide (FBG) with the name of the food product in the Food As Purchased column of the FBG exactly matching the name of the food listed on the food product label (e.g., Beef Stew, Chicken Chili, Turkey with Dumplings) in order to use the crediting information listed in the FBG. Commercially prepared combination foods that are not listed in the FBG (e.g., pizza, burritos, chicken nuggets) must be accompanied by a CN Label or a manufacturer’s PFS, providing information about the contribution of each component to the meal pattern.

Additional SFSP Meal Pattern Requirements for Lunch/Supper

  • Fruits/Vegetables:

    • Must serve two or more kinds of vegetables or fruits, or a combination of both. For example, CNP Operators could serve two kinds of vegetables (e.g., carrots and broccoli), two kinds of fruits (e.g., apple and banana), or a combination of both (e.g., broccoli and banana).

    • Juice may not be used to meet more than one-half of the fruit/vegetable component requirement each day. If juice is served, at least 3/8 c of another fruit or vegetable must be served.

  • M/MA: No more than 50 percent of the requirement can be met with nuts or seeds. If nuts and seeds are served, they must be combined with another M/MA to fulfill the minimum serving size requirement.

Additional SFSP Meal Pattern Requirements for Snack

  • Required Components: Only two of the four components are required to be served for a reimbursable snack.

  • Fruits/Vegetables: Juice may not be served when milk is the only other snack component.

For additional guidance on serving meals that meet the SFSP meal pattern requirements, access the USDA SFSP 2018 Nutrition Guide External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) and the USDA SFSP Meal Patterns web page External link opens in new window or tab..

SFSP Meal Pattern Tables for All Meals and Snacks

Food Component - Milk

Food Item Breakfast
Serving Size
Lunch or Supper
Serving Size
Snack
Serving Size
Milk, fluid
1 c (8 fluid ounces [fl oz])
1 c (8 fl oz)
1 c (8 fl oz)

Food Component - Vegetables and Fruits

Food Items Breakfast
Serving Size
Lunch or Supper
Serving Size
Snack
Serving Size
Vegetables and/or fruits ½ c ¾ c total ¾ c
Full-strength vegetable of fruit juice ½ c (4 fl oz) ¾ c total ¾ c (6 fl oz)
An equivalent quantity of any combination vegetables, fruits, and juice ½ c (4 fl oz) ¾ c total ¾ c (6 fl oz)

Food Component - Grains and Breads

Food Items Breakfast
Serving Size
Lunch or Supper
Serving Size
Snack
Serving Size
Bread 1 slice 1 slice 1 slice
Cornbread, biscuits, rolls, muffins, etc. 1 serving 1 serving 1 serving
Cold dry cereal ¾ c or 1 oz ¾ c or 1 oz ¾ c or 1 oz
Cooked pasta or noodle product ½ c ½ c ½ c
Cooked cereal or cereal grains, or an equivalent quantity of any combination of bread or bread alternates ½ c ½ c ½ c

Food Component - Meat and Meat Alternatives

Food Items Breakfast
Serving Size
Lunch or Supper
Serving Size
Snack
Serving Size
Lean meat, poultry, or fish 1 oz 2 oz 1 oz
Cheese 1 oz 2 oz 1 oz
Cottage cheese ¼ c ½ c ¼ c
Eggs ½ large egg 1 large egg ½ large egg
Cooked dry beans, or peas ¼ c ½ c ¼ c
Peanut butter, soy nut butter, seed butters, or other nut butters 2 tablespoons (T) 4 T 2 T
Peanuts, soy nuts, tree nuts, or seeds 1 oz 1 oz (meets 50% M/MA requirement) 1 oz
Yogurt, flavored, plain, or sweetened ½ c (4 fl oz) 1 c (8 fl oz) ½ c (4 fl oz)
An equivalent quantity of any combination of the above M/MA 1 oz total 2 oz total 1 oz total

SFSP Sample Menus

The CDE developed the sample menus below to provide CNP Operators with ideas for how to provide meals that meet the SFSP meal pattern requirements in the amounts required for each component.

This web page includes three sets of sample vegetarian menus.

  1. Grab-and-go menus: These menus were developed for CNP participants who can refrigerate food items or plan to eat the foods immediately. They include fresh foods, whole fruit, and commercially packaged foods.

  2. Shelf-stable menus: These menus were developed for CNP participants who can heat and rehydrate food. All items must be commercially packaged to ensure that they are shelf-stable.

  3. Ready-to-eat (RTE) shelf-stable menus: These menus were developed for CNP participants who do not have the ability to heat or hydrate food. All items must be commercially packaged to ensure that they are shelf-stable. All items are RTE.

In accordance with food safety principles, foods served to CNP participants that are perishable (i.e., spoil quickly or require refrigeration) should be discarded after more than two hours at room temperature; one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. All shelf-stable items are perishable upon opening.

Grab-and-Go Menus

Breakfast Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fruit/Vegetable
Raisins
(½ c)
Banana
(½ c)
Pineapple Cup
(½ c)
Apple
(½ c)
Orange
(½ c)
Grains/Bread
Whole-grain Granola Bar
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Graham Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Muffin
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Breakfast Cereal
(¾ c or 1 oz)

Oatmeal
(½ c cooked or 1 oz dry)

Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Lunch or Supper Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
Fruit/Vegetable

Orange; Baby Carrots
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Apple; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Pear; Broccoli
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Peach Cup; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Banana; Green Salad
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Grains/Bread

Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)

Granola
(¾ c or 1 oz)

Whole-grain Crackers or Pita Bread
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Pretzels
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Bread
(1 serving)

M/MA

String Cheese (1 oz) and
Nut or Seed Butter (2 T)

Yogurt
(8 oz [1 c])

Hummus, commercially packaged
(2 oz M/MA)

Cheese Cubes
(2 oz)

Sliced Cheese (2 oz) or Sliced Cheese (1 oz) and
Sliced Turkey (1 oz)
Extras
(optional)
Ranch Dip
Bottled Water

Cookies
Bottled Water

Ranch Dip
Bottled Water

Bottled Water

Cookies
Bottled Water

Snack (Supplement) Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Fluid Milk
(1 c)
N/A
N/A
N/A
Fluid Milk (1 c)
Fruit/Vegetable
N/A
N/A
Fruit Juice
(¾ c)
Banana
(¾ c)
N/A
Grains/Bread

Whole-grain Breakfast Cereal
(¾ c or 1 oz)

Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Pretzels
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Granola Bar
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Muffin
(1 serving)

M/MA
N/A
Nut or Seed Butter
(2 T [1 oz])
N/A
N/A
N/A
Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water


Additional grab-and-go options:

  • Breakfast grains: French toast, bagels, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, tortillas, cereal bars, breakfast bars, and pastries

  • Sandwiches, wraps, and pitas (e.g., nut or seed butter and jelly; grilled cheese; chicken or tuna salad; turkey ham)

  • Individually packaged commercial products that can be heated or thawed (e.g., burrito, pizza, breakfast and lunch sandwiches)

  • Salads and bowls (green, leafy, or grain [pasta, rice, quinoa] with protein (e.g., cheese, chicken, beans and peas [legumes])

  • Lunch pack consisting of an egg, cheese slices or cubes, hummus, fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, and cracker package

  • Yogurt parfait with granola and berries

Shelf-Stable Menus

Breakfast Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Fruit/Vegetable
Raisins
(½ c)
Peach Cup
(½ c)
Craisins
(½ c)
Applesauce
(½ c)
Mandarin Orange Cup
(½ c)
Grains/Bread

Whole-grain Granola Bar
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Graham Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Muffin
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Breakfast Cereal
(¾ c or 1 oz)

Oatmeal
(½ c cooked or 1 oz dry)

Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Lunch or Supper Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Fruit/Vegetable

Pineapple Cup; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Applesauce; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Mixed Fruit Cup; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Peach Cup; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Raisins; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Grains/Bread
Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Tortilla Chips
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Pita or Tortilla Chips
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)
M/MA

Nut or Seed Butter
(4 T)

Refried Beans (canned)
(½ c)

Beans Baked in Sauce, Vegetarian (canned)
(½ c)

Hummus, commercially packaged
(2 oz M/MA)

Nut or Seed Butter
(4 T)

Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water

Cookies
Bottled Water

Bottled Water

Bottled Water

Cookies
Bottled Water

Snack (Supplement) Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Dry or Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Fruit/Vegetable
N/A
Fruit Juice
(¾ c)
Peach Cup
(¾ c)
N/A
Fruit Juice
(¾ c)
Grains/Bread

Whole-grain Breakfast Cereal
(¾ c or 1 oz)

Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Granola Bar
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Graham Crackers
(1 serving)

M/MA
N/A
N/A
N/A
Nut or Seed Butter
(2 T [1 oz])
N/A
Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water

 

Crediting information for canned M/MA products used in the lunch and supper shelf-stable menu is included in the M/MA section of the USDA FBG External link opens in new window or tab..

RTE Shelf-Stable Menus

Breakfast Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Fruit/Vegetable
Raisins
(½ c)
Peach Cup
(½ c)
Craisins
(½ c)
Applesauce
(½ c)
Mandarin Orange Cup
(½ c)
Grains/Bread

Whole-grain Granola Bar
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Graham Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Muffin
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Breakfast Cereal
(¾ c or 1 oz)

Whole-grain Granola Bar
(1 serving)

Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Lunch or Supper Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
Fruit/Vegetable

Pineapple Cup; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Applesauce; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Mixed Fruit Cup; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Peach Cup; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Raisins; Vegetable Juice Box
(Two servings: ¾ c total)

Grains/Bread
Whole-grain Pretzels
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Pita or other Crackers
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Graham Crackers
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Pita or other Crackers
(1 serving)
Whole-grain Pretzels
(1 serving)
M/MA

Nut or Seed Butter
(4 T)

Hummus, commercially packaged
(2 oz M/MA)

Nut or Seed Butter
(4 T)

Hummus, commercially packaged
(2 oz M/MA)

Nut or Seed Butter
(4 T)

Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water

Cookies
Bottled Water

Bottled Water
Bottled Water

Cookies
Bottled Water

Snack (Supplement) Menu
Components Monday
Food Items
Tuesday
Food Items
Wednesday
Food Items
Thursday
Food Items
Friday
Food Items
Milk
Shelf-Stable Milk
(1 c)
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Fruit/Vegetable
N/A
Fruit Juice
(¾ c [6 fl oz])
Peach Cup
(¾ c)
Pineapple Cup
(¾ c)
Fruit Juice
(¾ c [6 fl oz])
Grains/Bread

Whole-grain Breakfast Cereal
(¾ c or 1 oz)

Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Granola Bar
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Crackers
(1 serving)

Whole-grain Graham Crackers
(1 serving)

Extras
(optional)
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water
Bottled Water

Menu Modifications

The CDE understands that CNP participants with special dietary needs and medical disabilities may not be able to consume some foods included in these menus. CNP Operators must accommodate all medical disabilities. Below are examples of dietary modifications to accommodate some disabilities that meet the SFSP meal pattern requirements.

  • Quinoa, rice cereals, brown rice, corn chips, and corn tortillas meet the grains requirement in case of a gluten allergy.

  • Lactose-free milk and some soy beverages meet the milk requirement in case of a lactose intolerance or allergy.

  • Sunflower seeds and butters meet the M/MA requirement in case of a nut allergy.

  • Nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters, and beans and peas (legumes) meet the M/MA requirement for a vegan diet; cheese, eggs, and yogurt can be served in addition for a vegetarian diet.

Questions:   Summer Food Service Program Team | SFSP@cde.ca.gov | 800-925-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, June 14, 2021
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