Sodium. School lunches offered to each age/grade group must meet, on average over the school week, the levels of sodium specified in the following table within the established deadlines:
(4) Trans fat. Food products and ingredients used to prepare school meals must contain zero grams of trans fat (less than 0.5 grams) per serving. Schools must add the trans fat specification and request the required documentation (nutrition label or manufacturer specifications) in their procurement contracts. Documentation for food products and food ingredients must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving. Meats that contain a minimal amount of naturally-occurring trans fats are allowed in the school meal programs.
(g) Compliance assistance. The State agency and school food authority must provide technical assistance and training to assist schools in planning lunches that meet the meal pattern in paragraph (c) of this section; the calorie, saturated fat, sodium, and trans fat specifications established in paragraph (f) of this section; and the meal pattern requirements in paragraphs (o), (p), and (q) of this section as applicable. Compliance assistance may be offered during trainings, onsite visits, and/or administrative reviews.
(h) Monitoring dietary specifications. -
(1) Calories, saturated fat and sodium. When required by the administrative review process set forth in § 210.18, the State agency must conduct a weighted nutrient analysis to evaluate the average levels of calories, saturated fat, and sodium of the lunches offered to students in grades K and above during one week of the review period. The nutrient analysis must be conducted in accordance with the procedures established in paragraph (i)(3) of this section. If the results of the nutrient analysis indicate that the school lunches are not meeting the specifications for calories, saturated fat, and sodium specified in paragraph (f) of this section, the State agency or school food authority must provide technical assistance and require the reviewed school to take corrective action to meet the requirements.
(2) Trans fat. State agencies must review product labels or manufacturer specifications to verify that the food products or ingredients used by the reviewed school(s) contain zero grams of trans fat (less than 0.5 grams) per serving.
(i) Nutrient analyses of school meals -
(1) Conducting the nutrient analysis. Any nutrient analysis, whether conducted by the State agency under § 210.18 or by the school food authority, must be performed in accordance with the procedures established in paragraph (i)(3) of this section. The purpose of the nutrient analysis is to determine the average levels of calories, saturated fat, and sodium in the meals offered to each age grade group over a school week. The weighted nutrient analysis must be performed as required by FNS guidance.
(2) Software elements -
(i) The Child Nutrition Database. The nutrient analysis is based on the USDA Child Nutrition Database. This database is part of the software used to do a nutrient analysis. Software companies or others developing systems for schools may contact FNS for more information about the database.
(ii) Software evaluation. FNS or an FNS designee evaluates any nutrient analysis software before it may be used in schools. FNS or its designee determines if the software, as submitted, meets the minimum requirements. The approval of software does not mean that FNS or USDA endorses it. The software must be able to perform a weighted average analysis after the basic data is entered. The combined analysis of the lunch and breakfast programs is not allowed.
(3) Nutrient analysis procedures -
(i) Weighted averages. The nutrient analysis must include all foods offered as part of the reimbursable meals during one week within the review period. Foods items are included based on the portion sizes and serving amounts. They are also weighted based on their proportionate contribution to the meals offered. This means that food items offered more frequently are weighted more heavily than those not offered as frequently. The weighted nutrient analysis must be performed as required by FNS guidance.
(ii) Analyzed nutrients. The analysis determines the average levels of calories, saturated fat, and sodium in the meals offered over a school week. It includes all food items offered by the reviewed school over a one-week period.
(4) Comparing the results of the nutrient analysis. Once the procedures in paragraph (i)(3) of this section are completed, State agencies must compare the results of the analysis to the calorie, saturated fat, and sodium levels established in § 210.10 or § 220.8, as appropriate, for each age/grade group to evaluate the school's compliance with the dietary specifications.
(j) Responsibility for monitoring meal requirements. Compliance with the meal requirements in paragraph (b) of this section, including dietary specifications for calories, saturated fat, sodium and trans fat, and paragraphs (o), (p), and (q) of this section, as applicable, will be monitored by the State agency through administrative reviews authorized in § 210.18.
(k) Menu choices at lunch -
(1) Availability of choices. Schools may offer children a selection of nutritious foods within a reimbursable lunch to encourage the consumption of a variety of foods. Children who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches must be allowed to take any reimbursable lunch or any choices offered as part of a reimbursable lunch. Schools may establish different unit prices for each reimbursable lunch offered provided that the benefits made available to children eligible for free or reduced price lunches are not affected.
(2) Opportunity to select. Schools that choose to offer a variety of reimbursable lunches, or provide multiple serving lines, must make all required food components available to all students, on every lunch line, in at least the minimum required amounts.
(l) Requirements for lunch periods -
(1) Timing. Schools must offer lunches meeting the requirements of this section during the period the school has designated as the lunch period. Schools must offer lunches between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Schools may request an exemption from these times from the State agency. With State agency approval, schools may serve lunches to children under age 5 over two service periods. Schools may divide quantities and food items offered each time any way they wish.
(2) Adequate lunch periods. FNS encourages schools to provide sufficient lunch periods that are long enough to give all students adequate time to be served and to eat their lunches.
(m) Exceptions and variations allowed in reimbursable meals -
(1) Exceptions for disability reasons. Schools must make substitutions in lunches and afterschool snacks for students who are considered to have a disability under 7 CFR 15b.3 and whose disability restricts their diet. Substitutions must be made on a case by case basis only when supported by a written statement of the need for substitution(s) that includes recommended alternate foods, unless otherwise exempted by FNS. Such statement must be signed by a licensed physician.
(2) Exceptions for non-disability reasons. Schools may make substitutions for students without disabilities who cannot consume the regular lunch or afterschool snack because of medical or other special dietary needs. Substitutions must be made on a case by case basis only when supported by a written statement of the need for substitutions that includes recommended alternate foods, unless otherwise exempted by FNS. Except with respect to substitutions for fluid milk, such a statement must be signed by a recognized medical authority.
(i) Fluid milk substitutions for non-disability reasons. Schools may make substitutions for fluid milk for non-disabled students who cannot consume fluid milk due to medical or special dietary needs. A school that selects this option may offer the nondairy beverage(s) of its choice, provided the beverage(s) meets the nutritional standards established under paragraph (d) of this section. Expenses incurred when providing substitutions for fluid milk that exceed program reimbursements must be paid by the school food authority.
(ii) Requisites for fluid milk substitutions.
(A) A school food authority must inform the State agency if any of its schools choose to offer fluid milk substitutes other than for students with disabilities; and
(B) A medical authority or the student's parent or legal guardian must submit a written request for a fluid milk substitute identifying the medical or other special dietary need that restricts the student's diet.
(iii) Substitution approval. The approval for fluid milk substitution must remain in effect until the medical authority or the student's parent or legal guardian revokes such request in writing, or until such time as the school changes its substitution policy for non-disabled students.
(3) Variations for ethnic, religious, or economic reasons. Schools should consider ethnic and religious preferences when planning and preparing meals. Variations on an experimental or continuing basis in the food components for the meal pattern in paragraph (c) of this section may be allowed by FNS. Any variations must be consistent with the food and nutrition requirements specified under this section and needed to meet ethnic, religious, or economic needs.
(4) Exceptions for natural disasters. If there is a natural disaster or other catastrophe, FNS may temporarily allow schools to serve meals for reimbursement that do not meet the requirements in this section.
(n) Nutrition disclosure. To the extent that school food authorities identify foods in a menu, or on the serving line or through other communications with program participants, school food authorities must identify products or dishes containing more than 30 parts fully hydrated alternate protein products (as specified in appendix A of this part) to less than 70 parts beef, pork, poultry or seafood on an uncooked basis, in a manner which does not characterize the product or dish solely as beef, pork, poultry or seafood. Additionally, FNS encourages schools to inform the students, parents, and the public about efforts they are making to meet the meal requirements for school lunches.
(o) Afterschool snacks. Eligible schools operating afterschool care programs may be reimbursed for one afterschool snack served to a child (as defined in § 210.2) per day.
(1) “Eligible schools” means schools that:
(i) Operate school lunch programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act; and
(ii) Sponsor afterschool care programs as defined in § 210.2.
(2) Afterschool snack requirements for grades K through 12. Afterschool snacks must contain two different components from the following four:
(i) A serving of fluid milk as a beverage, or on cereal, or used in part for each purpose.
(ii) A serving of meat or meat alternate, including nuts and seeds and their butters listed in FNS guidance that are nutritionally comparable to meat or other meat alternates based on available nutritional data.
(A) Nut and seed meals or flours may be used only if they meet the requirements for alternate protein products established in appendix A of this part.
(B) Acorns, chestnuts, and coconuts cannot be used as meat alternates due to their low protein and iron content.
(iii) A serving of vegetable or fruit, or full-strength vegetable or fruit juice, or an equivalent quantity of any combination of these foods. Juice must not be served when fluid milk is served as the only other component.
(iv) A serving of whole-grain or enriched bread; or an equivalent serving of a bread product, such as cornbread, biscuits, rolls, or muffins made with whole-grain or enriched meal or flour; or a serving of cooked whole-grain or enriched pasta or noodle products such as macaroni, or cereal grains such as enriched rice, bulgur, or enriched corn grits; or an equivalent quantity of any combination of these foods.
(3) Afterschool snack requirements for preschoolers -
(i) Snacks served to preschoolers. Schools serving afterschool snack to children ages 1 through 4 must serve the food components and quantities required in the snack meal pattern established for the Child and Adult Care Food Program, under § 226.20(a), (c)(3), and (d) of this chapter. In addition, schools serving afterschool snacks to this age group must comply with the requirements set forth in paragraphs (a), (c)(3), (4), and (7), (d)(2) through (4), (g), and (m) of this section.
(ii) Preschooler snack meal pattern table. The minimum amounts of food components to be served at snack are as follows: