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Meal Patterns

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 directed USDA to update the National School Lunch Program's meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The new meal pattern increases the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in the school menu; and reduces the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans-fat in school meals.  New dietary specifications set specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  While school lunches and breakfasts must meet Federal meal requirements, decisions about what specific foods to serve and how they are prepared are made by local school food authorities.

Transitional Menu Standards are effective for School Years 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.


Meal Component Tools

Pre-K Meal Pattern – sample menus

Lunch - Meal Patterns with Transitional Standards

Breakfast - Meal Patterns with Transitional Standards

Transitional Nutrition Standards: Whole Grain-Rich

Nutrition Standards for School Meals