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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Paula Tyner-Doyle, Coordinator
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Clarification of the Policy on Consumption of Meal Components Outside of the Foodservice Area; and the Whole Grain-Rich Requirement

This memorandum is intended to clarify two issues regarding meals offered in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). First, the memorandum clarifies the policy of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) regarding student consumption of certain lunch or breakfast items outside of the foodservice area and meal period. Second, it clarifies the requirement to offer whole grain-rich products in the NSLP and SBP.

Meal Items Outside the Foodservice Area

Meals offered in the NSLP and SBP are intended to be consumed at school in a designated foodservice area during the established meal service period. However, USDA recognizes that with time limited lunch periods and the increased amount of fruits and vegetables offered as part of the meals, some students may be inclined to save some items for consumption at a later time. As a reminder, there is no federal prohibition of this practice, and USDA encourages it as a means of reducing potential food waste and encouraging consumption of healthy school meals.

For food safety reasons, this practice should be limited to only food items that do not require cooling or heating, such as a whole fruit or a bag of baby carrots. In addition, schools may also wish to set up sharing tables for appropriate items to minimize food waste.

Further, Program operators should be aware of all applicable State and local food safety regulations to ensure that their policies for saving or sharing food are consistent with such standards, as well as their own HACCP food safety plans.

USDA encourages program operators to use this flexibility to facilitate and encourage children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, and help reduce food waste in the NSLP and SBP. Please note that this flexibility is intended to address practical constraints such as meal period time limitations that may prevent students from consuming their entire meal in the foodservice area. We continue to encourage schools to allow students a reasonable amount of time to select and consume their meals during the meal service period.

This flexibility does not imply that entire school meals may be given to children to take home, as this would not be an allowable practice.

Whole Grain-Rich Requirement

USDA also would like to clarify that 100 percent whole grain products are not required in the NSLP and SBP this current 2013-14 School Year (SY), nor will 100 percent whole grain products be required beginning in SY 2014-15. There has been discussion about the misunderstanding that exists regarding grains requirements and this memo attempts to clarify.

During 2013-14, half of all grains offered must be whole grain-rich, meaning that at least 50 percent of the grains in the product must be whole grain. In 2013-14, products that contained only enriched flours were allowed as long as they did not exceed 50 percent of the weekly offerings for grains.

Beginning SY 2014-2015 (July 1, 2014), 100 percent of all grains must be whole grain rich, meaning at least 50 percent the grains in all products must be whole grain in order to be counted in the reimbursable meal. You will not be able to count grain products that contain only enriched flour as part of your weekly grain offerings in 2014-15.

Whole grain-rich refers to products which contain at least 50 percent whole grains and the remainder of the grains can be enriched. For example, a product containing 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of enriched white flour would meet the 50 percent whole grain-rich requirement if there are no other grains in the product. Additional guidance on allowable grains is available in The Whole Grains Resource attached as a link at the end of this memorandum or by accessing the USDA FNS website

Questions concerning this guidance should be directed to your Child Nutrition Program representative at (518) 473-8781. 

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


For Nondiscrimination Statement translations, click here.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en: y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; o

(3)     correo electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.