School meals are giving kids the goodness of whole grains. Whole grains give kids B vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help them feel full longer so they stay alert to concentrate at school. As of School Year 2014-15, all grains offered as part of school lunch and breakfast are “whole grain-rich.”
Schools can use grain products that are a blend of whole-grains and more refined enriched grains. This allows for baked goods that can be more acceptable to students - their color is lighter and the texture is more similar to refined breads and pastas. USDA is also giving schools some flexibility when offering whole grains while industry develops suitable whole grain-rich items. See School Meal Flexibilities for SY 2017-18 policy SP 32-2017 and SP 33-2016: Extension Notice: Requests for Exemption from the School Meals’ Whole Grain-Rich Requirement for SY 2016-17.
There are many products that meet the whole grain-rich criteria available that schools are using to make rice bowls, sandwiches, wraps, and more. See the resources below for guidance on what products meet whole grain-rich requirements and ways to introduce new grains at school.
- USDA 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series: Make Half Your Grains Whole
- USDA 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series: Choosing Whole-Grain Foods
- Whole Grains (USDA Healthy Meals Resource System)
- Whole Grains in Child Nutrition Program (Institute of Child Nutrition)
- Whole Grain Resource for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs