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National School Lunch Program - NSLP

Frequently asked questions (FAQ's)

Q. A teacher asked me why I serve so many desserts. I explained that grain-based desserts (depending on the quantity of grain in the recipe) may credit up to one grain/bread serving a day under the Enhanced Menu Planning Option. However, she feels the sugar in dessert items is a problem. Should I be limiting sugar in my menus?

A. There are no federal or state requirements regarding sugar levels in school meals. Menus can include dessert items. It may be difficult to meet the calorie requirements for children without including some foods with sugar. Misconceptions about sugar and health are common. It is important to know that sugar has not been linked by reputable scientific research to any health problem except tooth decay. While it may offer a temporary boost of energy, sugar and other sweeteners have never been proven to cause or increase hyperactivity, obesity or diabetes.

Q. Is there any difference between a “gallon” and a “#10 can?”

A. Yes, a gallon is larger. A gallon is equivalent to 16 cups while a #10 can averages 12-13 cups each. Schools typically purchase fruits and vegetables in cases of #10 cans. Therefore, when recording the quantity of canned fruits and vegetables used on the daily production record, be sure to refer to them as #10 cans.

Q. I am a new school food service manager. The previous manager often used the term “Type A” lunch. What does that mean?

A. The term “Type A” lunch refers to an outdated meal pattern that was discontinued by USDA around 1980. Until then, it was used to describe a lunch that met program requirements for reimbursement. School meal pattern requirements have changed several times since then, and the term “Type A” lunch no longer applies to the program. The correct term to used to describe a breakfast or lunch that meets program requirements under any of the four current menu-planning options is “reimbursable meal.”

Q. Is it acceptable to serve potato chips?

A. If potato chips are served with a meal, they are considered an “extra” which means they do not contribute to the meal pattern. While it is acceptable to occasionally offer potato chips, we highly recommend that schools offer instead a grain-based chip such as corn chips or pretzels. With the majority of Nebraska schools implementing Enhanced Food-Based Menu Planning, many districts find it difficult to meet the 12 grains/breads requirement for grades K-6 and the 15 grains/breads requirement for grades 7-12. Potato chips are also high in fat and sodium; two nutrients that need to be limited in school meals.

Q. How are powdered and canned cheese sauces credited in the National School Lunch Program?

A. Powdered cheese sauce mixes and canned cheese sauces may be used; however, these items are not “creditable.” This means they contribute nothing to the meat alternate requirement. These food items do not come with a product specification sheet or a Child Nutrition (CN) label that would indicate the portion size and how it contributes to USDA’s meal pattern requirements. The only cheese sauce that is “creditable” is a homemade sauce in which you know the amount of cheese that was used to make the product. Generally, we see canned or powdered cheese sauces being ladled over broccoli cuts or a burrito where it is considered an “extra.”


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