Meal Patterns

Meal Pattern Changes—Effective October 1, 2017

Child and Adult Care Food Program

All sponsors of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in Minnesota must implement the following meal pattern changes by October 1, 2017. New meal pattern charts, forms, and additional materials can be found on the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) CACFP Meal Patterns webpage and the USDA CACFP meal pattern webpage.

1. One serving of whole grain-rich per day

  • At least one serving of grains per day must be whole grain-rich for children and adults.
  • Whole grain-rich is a grain product that contains at least 50 percent whole grains, remaining grains are enriched.
  • Whole grain-rich foods must be identified on menus.
  • Guidance on crediting whole grain-rich foods can be found in the USDA memo CACFP 02-2017.

2. Grain-based desserts are not creditable

  • Grain-based desserts include cakes, cookies including vanilla wafers, brownies, doughnuts, toaster pastries, sweet rolls, cereal bars, breakfast bars, granola bars, fruit turnovers, coffee cake, and sweet pie crusts including dessert pies, cobblers, fruit turnovers, sweet bread puddings, sweet rice puddings and sweet scones.

3. Breakfast cereals must meet the sugar limit

  • Breakfast cereals (ready-to-eat and hot) must contain no more than six grams of sugar per dry ounce, which is 21.2 grams sugar per 100 grams of dry cereal.
  • A list of cereals that meet this criteria can be found on pages 13-14 of the WIC Shopping Guide.
  • Refer to this USDA handout for more tips on serving low sugar cereals.

4. Yogurt must meet the sugar limit

  • Yogurt must contain no more than 23 grams of sugar per six ounces (weight) or ¾ cup (volume).
  • Refer to this USDA handout for more tips on serving low sugar yogurts.

5. Fruits and vegetables are separate food components

  • Both a fruit and a vegetable or two different vegetables must be served at lunch and supper meals for the child and adult meal patterns.
  • A vegetable and a fruit may be served as the two food components at snack. Two vegetables cannot be served as the two food components at snack.

6. Juice is limited to once per day

  • Juice (full-strength 100 percent) may only be used to meet the vegetable or fruit requirement at one meal, including snack, per day for children and adults.

7. Frying is not allowed was a way of preparing food on site

  • Frying is defined as deep-fat frying (i.e. cooking by submerging food in hot oil or other fat).
  • Sautéing, pan-frying, and stir-frying are allowed.

8. Milk must meet fat and flavor restrictions

  • Fluid milk for one-year-old children (12-24 months) must be unflavored whole milk only.
  • Fluid milk for children ages two through five years old must be unflavored low-fat (one percent) or unflavored fat-free (skim) milk only.
  • Flavored fluid milk substitutes are not allowed for children ages five and under. Refer to the Fluid Milk Substitutions document.
  • Fluid milk for children ages six years old and older and adult care participants must be unflavored low-fat (one percent), unflavored fat-free (skim), or flavored fat-free (skim) milk only.
  • Refer to this USDA handout for more tips on serving creditable fluid milk.

9. Water must be offered and available to children throughout the day

  • Potable drinking water must be offered and available to children throughout the day.

10. Infant meal pattern age groups are 0-5 months and 6-11 months

  • Solid foods are gradually introduced around six months of age, as developmentally appropriate.
  • A vegetable and/or fruit is required at snack for infants 6-11 months old, as developmentally ready.
  • Juice, cheese foods, and cheese spreads are not creditable for infants.
  • Parents or guardians may supply a maximum of one creditable food component toward a reimbursable infant meal or snack, breastmilk included. All other required food components must be supplied by the center.
  • Ready-to-eat cereals are creditable at snack; cereal must meet the sugar limit.
  • Yogurt and whole eggs may be served at lunch and supper in place of or in combination with iron-fortified infant cereal. Yogurt must meet the sugar limit and egg yolks alone are not creditable.
  • Meals and snacks may be claimed when a mother directly breastfeeds her child at the child care center or home. All other required food components must be served, as developmentally appropriate.

11. Meat and meat alternates may be substituted for grains at breakfast three times per week

  • Meat and meat alternates may be used to substitute the entire grains component at breakfast a maximum of three times per week for the child and adult meal patterns.
  • One ounce equivalent meat/meat alternate equals one serving grain.

12. Parents or guardians may supply one food component for special dietary needs

  • For special dietary needs related to a medical non-disability, centers may claim reimbursement when parents or guardians supply a maximum of one required food component for a child or adult.
  • All other required food components must be supplied by the center.
  • Food components provided by parents or guardians must meet meal pattern requirements.
  • For special dietary needs related to a medical disability, centers may claim reimbursement when parents and guardians supply one or more meal components for a child or adult.
  • At least one required meal component must be supplied by the center.

13. Adult Care Only: Yogurt may be served in place of fluid milk once per day

  • Six ounces (¾ cup) of yogurt may be served in place of eight ounces of fluid milk once per day.
  • Yogurt must meet the sugar limit and cannot be served in place of fluid milk when yogurt is also served as the meat/meat alternate in the same meal.

14. Adult care and at-risk afterschool meal programs may use offer vs. serve (OVS)

  • OVS is optional and is only allowed at breakfast, lunch, and supper meals, not snack.
  • Refer to USDA memo CACFP 05-2017 for instructions on implementing OVS.

15. Tofu and soy yogurt are creditable as meat alternates

  • Tofu must contain at least five grams protein per 2.2 ounces (1/4 cup)
  • 2.2 ounces (¼ cup) tofu = 1.0 ounce equivalent meat alternate.
  • Soy yogurt must meet the yogurt sugar limit (no more than 23 grams of sugar per six ounces).
  • 4.0 fluid ounces (½ cup) soy yogurt = 1.0 ounce equivalent meat alternate.
  • Tofu and soy yogurt are not creditable for infants (children under 12 months of age).
  • Noncommercial tofu and soy products are not creditable (example: homemade tofu and soy yogurt).