Questions and Answers - Grains
How will centers and day care homes identify whole grain-rich foods?
- Centers and day care homes can identify whole grain-rich foods using one of several methods. First, if a whole grain is listed as the first ingredient on the product’s ingredient list or second after water, then the product meets the whole grain-rich criteria. Second, a center or day care home can work with a manufacturer to get the proper manufacturing documentation demonstrating that whole grains are the primary grain ingredient by weight. For foods prepared by a CACFP center or day care home, a recipe can be used to determine that whole grains are the primary grain ingredient by weight. Additionally, centers and day care homes can look for one of the following FDA approved whole-grain health claims on packaging: “diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers” or “diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease.” In recognizing that whole grain-rich products are not always easy to identify, FNS is developing training worksheets in English and Spanish to help CACFP centers and day care homes identify whole grain-rich foods. In addition, USDA’s Team Nutrition developed the Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program that includes tips on how to include more 100% whole-grain foods on menus (http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/whole_grains.pdf). Foods that contain 100% whole grains meet the whole grain-rich criteria.
Can centers and day care homes use the Whole Grain Stamp (from the Whole Grain Council) to determine if a grain product meets the whole grain-rich criteria?
Do grain products have to be 100% whole grain to meet the whole grain-rich requirement?
- No. While the Whole Grain Stamp provides useful information about the amount of whole grains a product contains, the product must still be evaluated against the whole grain-rich criteria outlined in this memorandum. Products that display the Whole Grain Stamp contain at least eight grams of whole grain per serving. However, they may also contain some non-enriched refined flour which does not meet the grains criteria for Child Nutrition Programs. Therefore, just because a product has eight grams of whole grains does not mean the product meets the whole grain-rich criteria.
- No, grain products do not need to be 100% whole grain to meet the whole grain-rich criteria. However, grain products that contain 100% whole grain do meet the whole grain-rich criteria. Whole grain-rich foods contain at least 50% whole grains and the remaining grains, if any, must be enriched.
Are fully cooked grain products, such as pasta, whose ingredient list has water as the first ingredient and a whole grain as the second ingredient, considered whole grain-rich?
- For child and adult meals and snacks, centers and day care homes must serve at least one whole grain-rich food per day. Requiring that at least one grain served per day be whole grain-rich, instead of 100% whole grain, gives centers and day care homes flexibility in choosing what grains they serve while still offering the nutritional benefits of whole grains. This flexibility will make it easier for centers and day care homes to find grain products that meet the updated meal pattern requirements.
- Yes, a grain product is considered whole grain-rich if water is listed as the first ingredient and a whole grain is listed as the second ingredient on the ingredient list.
Can wheat bread, rolls, and buns labeled as “100% whole wheat” be used to meet the whole grain-rich requirement?
In a recipe for bread, would ingredients listed as 2 cups of whole-wheat flour and 2 cups of enriched white flour meet the whole grain-rich requirement?
- Yes, grain products that are specifically labeled as “whole wheat bread,” “entire wheat bread,” “whole wheat rolls,” “entire wheat rolls,” “whole wheat buns” and “entire wheat buns” are 100% whole wheat and are easily identifiable as meeting the whole grain-rich requirement. These products will not have any refined grains listed in the ingredient statement. Please note that foods with the label “whole grain” do not necessarily meet the whole grain-rich criteria.
- Yes, as long as there are no other grain ingredients in the food, a food that contains 2 cups of whole-wheat flour and 2 cups of enriched white flour would meet the whole grain-rich requirement. This is because it contains at least 50% whole grains and the remaining grains in the food are enriched.
Do centers and day care homes have the discretion to choose which meals will include a whole grain-rich grain?
- Yes, centers and day care homes may choose to serve a whole grain-rich item at any meal or snack as long as one grain per day over the course of all the meals and snacks served that day is whole grain-rich. For example, a center may serve a whole grain-rich cereal at breakfast one day and a whole grain-rich pasta at lunch the next day. This will help expose participants to a variety of whole grains and the wide range of vitamins and minerals whole grains provide.
If a center or day care home chooses to serve a grain-based dessert with fruit, can the fruit count towards the fruit requirement?
- Centers and day care homes may choose to serve grain-based desserts, such as cakes or cookies, during celebrations or other special occasions as an additional food item that is not reimbursable. FNS recognizes that there may be times when a center or day care home would like to serve foods or beverages that are not reimbursable. FNS encourages centers and day care homes to use their discretion when serving non- reimbursable foods and beverages, which may be higher in added sugar, saturated fats, and sodium, to ensure children and adult participants’ nutritional needs are met.
- Yes, the fruit in the grain-based dessert can credit towards the fruit component. The grains portion of a grain-based dessert with fruit, such as pies, cobblers, or crisps, cannot count towards the grain component. Centers and day care homes should serve sweetened fruit in moderation to help reduce children and adults’ consumption of added sugars and help children develop a taste preference for unsweetened fruit. Pancakes and waffles are not grain-based desserts according to Exhibit A.
If syrup, honey, jam or another sweet topping is served with the pancakes or waffles, are they then considered grain-based desserts?
- No, adding a sweet topping, such as syrup, to pancakes or waffles does not make them grain-based desserts and they can continue to be counted towards the grain component. However, FNS strongly encourages centers and day care homes to explore healthier alternatives for toppings, such as fruit or yogurt. Minimizing sweet toppings will help reduce children’s and adults’ consumption of added sugars. When sugars are added to foods and beverages to sweeten them, they add calories without contributing essential nutrients.
How does a center or day care home determine if a breakfast cereal has no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce (21.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams)?
- There are several ways a center or day care home can determine if a breakfast cereal is within the sugar limit. First, centers and day care homes can use any state agency’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) approved breakfast cereal list. Some stores also have labels on the shelves indicating which breakfast cereals are WIC-approved. All WIC-approved breakfast cereals contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce (21.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams). Second, centers and day care homes may do some math to determine the sugar content of a breakfast cereal. Using the Nutrition Facts Label, the center or day care home may divide the amount of sugar per serving (listed towards the middle) by the serving size in grams (listed at the top). If the amount of sugar per serving divided by the serving size in grams is 0.212 or less, then the cereal is within the sugar limit and may be creditable in CACFP. For example, Cereal A’s Nutrition Facts Labels shows that the serving size is 55 grams and the amount of sugar per serving is 13 grams. Therefore, 13 grams (serving size) divided by 55 grams of sugar equals 0.236. Cereal A exceeds the sugar limit because 0.236 is greater than 0.212. FNS is developing an easy-to-use chart to further help CACFP centers and day care homes identify breakfast cereals within the sugar limit.
When submitting menus for review, do centers and day care homes need to document which grain foods are whole grain-rich?
Yes, starting October 1, 2017, centers and day care homes must document when a food is whole grain-rich on their menu, and may do this by using terms such as “whole grain-rich,” “whole wheat,” or simply listing a whole grain. For example, a menu may say: “peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain-rich bread,” “whole wheat pasta and chicken,” or “brown rice and vegetables.” Common and usual names for whole grains that are helpful to know and can be used to identify whole grain-rich foods on menus are:
- The word “whole” listed before a grain, such as “whole wheat” or “whole corn;”
- The words “berries” and “groats” are used to designate a whole grain, such as “wheat berries” or “oat groats;”
- Rolled oats and oatmeal (including old fashioned, quick cooking, and instant oatmeal); and
- Other whole-grain foods that do not use the word “whole” in their description, such as brown rice, brown rice flour, wild rice, quinoa, millet, triticale, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, and sorghum. It is the responsibility of the State agency or sponsor, as applicable, when conducting reviews, to check labels and product information to ensure that the whole grain-rich items being served meet the whole grain-rich criteria presented in this memorandum
If a day care home serves breakfast and snack and a grain is served at both breakfast and snack, but neither of the grains are whole grain-rich, which meal is disallowed?
- The snack would be disallowed. This is because the snack is the meal with the lowest reimbursement rate that contained a grain. Conversely, if a grain was not served at snack and the grain at breakfast is not whole grain-rich, then the breakfast meal would be disallowed. In that situation, the breakfast meal is the meal with the lowest reimbursement rate that contained a grain.
If a center serves breakfast and lunch and the whole grain-rich grain is planned for lunch, but the center is forced to close before serving lunch due to severe weather, will meals be disallowed?
- No, if a center or day care home is unable to serve the meal with a whole grain-rich grain due to extenuating circumstances and the menu demonstrates that a whole grain- rich grain was planned for the missed meal(s), no meals will be disallowed on the basis that the whole grain-rich requirement was not met. Menus must show that at least one whole grain-rich grain is offered each day the center or home is operating.
If a different group of children are at lunch than at breakfast, do both meals have to contain a whole grain-rich grain?
- No, the whole grain-rich requirement applies to the center or day care home, not to each child or adult participant. If a center or day care home serves breakfast and lunch and two different groups of children or adults are at each meal, only one meal must contain a whole grain-rich food. FNS strongly encourages centers and day care homes that have different groups of participants at each meal (such as one group of children at breakfast and a second group at lunch) to vary the meal in which a whole grain-rich grain is served. For example, whole grain-rich toast could be served at breakfast on Monday and brown rice could be served at lunch on Tuesday. This will help ensure that all participants are served whole grains and benefit from the important nutrients they provide.
If a program only serves snacks, would all the grains served at snack have to be whole grain-rich?
- Yes, if the snack includes a grain, such as crackers with apples, the grain must be whole grain-rich starting October 1, 2017. However, programs that only serve snack, such as an at-risk afterschool program, are not required to serve a grain at snack because it is not a required component at snack. A program may offer a reimbursable snack with a fruit and vegetable, milk and fruit, a meat alternate and vegetable, and so forth. Conversely, if a center or day care home only serves one meal (breakfast, lunch or supper) per day then the grain served at that meal must be whole grain-rich.
Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.
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