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Meal Pattern Guidelines



Grains, cereals and bread make up this group. Grains are required at breakfast, lunch and supper. Grains may also be served as one of the components at snack. 

Grains must meet the following criteria to be creditable:

  • Be whole grain or enriched, or made from whole-corn meal and/or flour. 
  • Must also serve the customary function of bread in a meal. This means for lunch or supper, it must be served as an accompaniment to or be a recognizable part of the main dish. (not merely a filler or extender- for example oatmeal in meatloaf is a filler)

Whole Grain-Rich Items

At least 1 serving of grains per day must be whole-grain rich.

  • Whole grain-rich foods are those that contain:
    • 100% whole grain
    • at least 50% whole grains and the remaining grains in the food are enriched. 

Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals include ready-to-eat, instant, and regular hot cereals.

  • Breakfast cereals must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry oz (no more than 32 grams of sucrose and other sugars per 100 grams of dry cereal).

Grain-based Desserts

Grain-based desserts no longer credit toward a reimbursable meal. These items include: cakes, cookies, bars, brownies, pastries, doughnuts, vanilla wafers, cinnamon/caramel rolls, pop tarts, cereal bars, granola bars, rice krispie bars, etc.