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Q&As on the School Breakfast Program Meal Pattern in SY 2014-15

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PDF Icon Policy Memo (100.76 KB)
DATE: April 28, 2014
SUBJECT: Questions & Answers on the School Breakfast Program Meal Pattern in School Year 2014-2015
TO: Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions
State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

The attached Questions & Answers (QAs) provide guidance on the meal patterns and dietary specifications for meals offered under the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The meal requirements for the SBP were established by the final rule Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (77 FR 4088, Jan. 26, 2012), which was issued in conformance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Full implementation of the new school meal requirements culminates in school year (SY) 2014-15. The SBP meal requirements are being phased-in over multiple years; this memorandum addresses the requirements that will become effective July 1, 2014 (SY 2014-15). For information on the breakfast requirements that were implemented in SY 2013-14, please refer to Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) memorandum SP-28-2013 (v. 2). For QAs on the school lunch requirements or general questions applicable to both breakfasts and lunches, see memorandum SP 10- 2012 (version 7, Aug. 7, 2013). These documents are available at

Overview of Breakfast Meal in SY 2014-2015

In SY 2014-15, all schools in the SBP must plan to offer the three required food components (fruits, grains, and fluid milk) in the daily and weekly quantities specified in the meal pattern established by the final rule. The daily breakfast must consist of at least: 1 cup of fruits, 1 ounce equivalent (oz eq) of whole grain-rich grains, and 1 cup of milk (unflavored/flavored fat-free milk or unflavored low-fat milk). Additional whole grain-rich grains must be offered over the course of the week to meet the weekly grains requirement for each age-grade group. All grains offered with the school meals must be whole grain-rich products.

The Target 1 sodium restriction for school meals will be effective in SY 2014-15; therefore, the breakfast offered on average over the course of the week must not exceed the sodium Target 1 established for each age-grade group. There are no changes to the other dietary specifications. The calorie ranges for each age-grade group, and the restrictions on saturated fat (less than 10 percent of calories) remain in effect. Please note the specifications for sodium, calories, and saturated fat apply to breakfasts offered on average over the course of the week, and do not apply to each individual meal or per student. The restriction on trans fat (zero grams of trans fat per serving) also remains in effect.

As a reminder, there are three age-grade groups (K-5, 6-8 and 9-12) that must be used for menu planning. However, schools may offer the same breakfast to all students provided that it contains the food quantities required for each age-grade group and meets the dietary specifications for each group.

More details about the meal requirements that must be followed in the SBP in SY 2014- 15 are provided below:

  • Schools must offer a minimum of 1 cup of fruits daily to all age-grade groups.
  • More fruits may be offered if the calorie level in the average breakfast offered over the week is within the calorie range established in the meal pattern for each age-grade group.
  • Schools may offer vegetables in place of fruits. The first two cups per week of any such substitution must be from the following subgroups: dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, or “Other vegetables” (as defined in 7 CFR 210.10(c)(2)(iii)).
  • Full-strength juice may be offered to meet up to one-half of the weekly fruit requirement.
  • Dried fruit may be offered; it credits for double the amount offered. For example, ¼ cup of raisins credits as ½ cup of fruit.
  • Under Offer versus Serve (OVS), students must select at least ½ cup of fruits (or substituted vegetables) to have a reimbursable meal.
  • All grains offered must be whole grain-rich products that conform to FNS guidance.
  • For all grade groups, schools must offer at least 1 oz eq of grains daily.
  • The weekly grains requirement varies by age-grade group: 7-10 oz eq for grades K-5, 8- 0 oz eq for grades 6-8, and 9-10 oz eq for grades 9-12. (Note: These weekly grains range serves as a guide to help schools plan age-appropriate meals and meet dietary specifications requirements. Exceeding the weekly grains range is not a violation of the meal pattern under the administrative review.)
  • Schools may offer an optional meat/meat alternate to meet part of the grains component if the minimum daily grains requirement (1 oz eq) is offered in the menu or planned breakfast. (A serving of 1 oz eq of meat/meat alternate may credit as 1 oz eq of grains.)
  • Alternately, a school may offer a meat/meat alternate as an extra food and not credit it toward the grains component. However, extra foods must be included when menus are assessed for compliance with calories, saturated fats, sodium, and trans fat requirements.
Fluid Milk
  • Schools must offer only fat-free (unflavored or flavored) or low-fat (unflavored) milk.
  • For all age-grade groups, schools must offer at least 1 cup of milk daily.
  • A variety (at least two options) of milk must be offered.
OVS at Breakfast

A food component is one of three food groups that comprise reimbursable breakfasts. These are: fruits (or vegetables as substitute); grains (with optional meat/meat alternate); and fluid milk.

A food item is a specific food offered within the three food components. For the purposes of OVS, a school must offer at least four food items that meet the required food components. Under OVS, the student must select three food items, including at least ½ cup of fruits, to have a reimbursable breakfast in SY 2014-2015.

Sodium Target 1

Beginning SY 2014-2015, the sodium content of the average breakfast offered during the week must be as follows:

For grades K-5 540 mg or less
For grades 6-8 600 mg or less
For grades 9-12 640 mg or less
Additional Information

Materials related to the new school meal requirements are available on the FNS website at

We appreciate all you do for the school meal programs and look forward to our continued collaboration to improve the nutrition of America's children. State agencies are reminded to distribute this memo and enclosure to school food authorities (SFAs) immediately. SFAs should contact their state agencies for additional information. State agencies may direct any questions concerning this guidance to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Cynthia Long
Deputy Administrator
Child Nutrition Programs

Page updated: April 07, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.