Nutrition Program Updates for the Week of January 21, 2019

department of education

Nutrition Program Updates for the Week of January 21, 2019

Each section contains updates relevant to those nutrition programs. You can jump to the section you're interested in by clicking the link.

All Nutrition Programs

Update of Food Crediting in the Child Nutrition Programs

The USDA recently released the Update of Food Crediting in the Child Nutrition Programs Memo (SP 08-2019, CACFP 02-2019, SFSP 02-2019). This memo details updates to foods that can be credited in School Nutrition Programs (SNP), Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP), and Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP).

One result is that dried meat snacks will now be creditable as meat/meat alternates. This includes shelf-stable, dried and semi-dried meat, poultry and seafood snacks. Sponsors should request a product formulation statement from the manufacturer to assess crediting of ounce equivalents for these food items.

The memo also lists other food items that will now be creditable in the Child Nutrition Programs meal patterns; coconut, hominy, popcorn, surimi seafood and tempeh. However, currently there is no guidance on how these products will credit, so they cannot be used until the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases more information. There will also be new guidance released on using vegetable disguised as other food components, such as noodles made from vegetables. We will communicate new guidance through this bulletin when it becomes available.


Federal Shutdown Update and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As of Tuesday, January 22, the partial federal government shutdown has not been resolved.  Responses to some commonly asked questions are listed below. 

Q: Which nutrition programs are affected by the shutdown?

A: All USDA Child Nutrition Programs (CNPs) which receive reimbursement for meals served - including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program – are affected by the shutdown. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Team Nutrition Program and the USDA Food Distribution Program are not affected by the funding lapse.


Q: How long can we expect reimbursement payments for our claims?

A: Currently, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has funding available to process reimbursement claims into March. We are monitoring cash flow on a weekly basis and will provide further updates about when funding will be exhausted if the shutdown continues.


Q: Are administrative reviews still taking place as scheduled?

A: Yes. MDE will continue to operate all administrative activities (applications, technical assistance/training, and compliance reviews) as usual until our federal administrative funding is exhausted.


Q: What nutrition benefits are available to help families who are financially impacted by the partial federal government shutdown?

A: Families facing financial hardship due to the partial government shutdown may apply for free or reduced-price meals if they meet Income Eligibility Guidelines.


We understand and share your frustration with the lack of certainty as a result of the partial federal government shutdown. We also appreciate you communicating this information with families who may be uncertain about their ability to rely on child nutrition programs for meals. Please contact Monica Herrera at 651 582-8266 or if you have any additional questions.

School Nutrition Programs

USDA Final Rule Regarding Meal Planning Flexibilities

The USDA recently issued a final rule regarding meal planning flexibilities for School Nutrition Programs related to whole-grain rich grains, flavored low-fat milk and sodium targets. These flexibilities go into effect on July 1, 2019. Read the Federal Register document.

The permanent flexibilities are as follows:

  • Menu planners must ensure that at least 50 percent of grain products served in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Programs (SBP) meet whole grain-rich requirements. The remaining grain in the product must be enriched. Currently, 100 percent of grain products must meet whole grain-rich requirements. For the remainder of school year 2018-19, SFAs must comply with this requirement unless they have received a whole grain-rich exemption for certain non-whole grain-rich items.
  • SFAs will be allowed to offer low-fat (1 percent) flavored milk without requesting an exemption. This will apply to all students participating in the NSLP and SBP (grades K-12 and co-mingled preschool students) and children age 6 years or older participating in the Special Milk Program and Child and Adult Care Food Programs. This flexibility does not apply to preschoolers who are served the preschool meal pattern, as flavored milk of any kind is not allowable for these students.
  • Sodium Target 1, effective July 1, 2014, has been extended through June 30, 2024. Starting July 1, 2024, SFAs will be expected to offer menus that are in compliance with Sodium Target 2. The Final Sodium Target, which would have gone in effect July 1, 2022, has been eliminated. This applies to both the NSLP and SBP. The targets are available in the final rule publication.

The final rule allows states to establish more strict standards than those outlined here. MDE is currently studying the new legislation and will be seeking input from operators before establishing Minnesota-specific rules. MDE will provide further guidance prior to implementation.


Upcoming School Nutrition Program Training Opportunities

All training opportunities are listed on the School Nutrition's Training and Professional Standards webpage.

Tuesdays @ 2 Webinars

  • Procurement Foundations: Developing a Procurement Schedule (January 22, 2019, at 2 p.m.)
  • Mid-Year Check-In Dialogue with Deb (January 29, 2019, at 2 p.m.)
  • Managing Special Diets (February 5, 2019, at 2 p.m.)

Access further information and registration for Tuesdays @ 2 webinars.


From Our Partners

New USDA Team Nutrition Resources

USDA Team Nutrition has recently released several new resources for CACFP organizations and school sponsors, all of which encourage an environment of wellness through promotion of healthy eating and physical activity.  Check out these new resources:

Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP) Resources

  • “Nibbles for Health”: These newsletters provide advice to parents of preschool-age children on nutrition topics, such as Portions for Preschoolers, Tips for a “Choosy” Eater, Healthy Snacks with Smiles, and more. View newsletters.
  • “Adding Whole Grains to your CACFP Menu”: These training worksheets include scenario-based questions and activities to learn the CACFP meal patterns. (Available in English and Spanish) View training worksheets.
  • “Breastfed Babies Welcome Here”: These resources include a mother’s guide, a poster for centers participating in the CACFP to display, and a graphic. View resources.

School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Resources

  • “Fueling My Health Life”: These nutrition education lessons for 6th graders focus on the importance of breakfast. The multimedia resources include a video, a digital interactive activity, group challenges and more. View lessons.

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