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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
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products

The Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs final rule was published on January 26, 2012.  The final rule gives schools the option to offer commercially prepared tofu as a meat alternate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP),  allowing schools to further diversify the sources of meat alternates available to students and meet the dietary needs of vegetarians and culturally diverse groups in schools.  The provision is effective July 1, 2012.

While tofu does not currently have a Federal standard of identity, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) encourage plant-based sources of protein such as tofu.  Tofu must be commercially prepared and meet the following definition, established in 7 CFR 210.2 for purposes of the school meal programs as “a soybean-derived food…basic ingredients [in tofu] are whole soybeans, one or more food-grade coagulants (typically a salt or an acid), and water.”  Noncommercial tofu and soy products are not creditable.

In the school meal programs, 2.2 ounces (1/4 cup) of commercially prepared tofu, containing at least 5 grams of protein, is creditable as 1.0 ounce equivalent meat alternate.  This is consistent with the DGA recommended serving size for tofu, and provides protein and nutrients at levels similar to other Child Nutrition (CN)-credited meat alternate foods.

Additionally, ½ cup (4.0 fluid ounces) of soy yogurt is creditable as 1.0 ounce equivalent meat alternate.  This is consistent with the crediting of dairy yogurt while allowing schools to provide a non-dairy alternative.

Since school meals are an opportunity for children to learn to eat healthy and balanced meals,foods served should be easily recognized by children as part of a food group that contributes to a healthy meal.  Tofu is widely recognized as a meat substitute. We recognize that tofu is being used to produce other meat substitute products such as links and sausages. These products are easily recognizable as meat substitutes and can be credited as such.  However, products made with tofu that are not easily recognized as meat substitutes, would not contribute to any component of the reimbursable meal and do not meet the customary and usual function of the meat/meat alternate component.  For example, soft tofu blended into a recipe so that it is not recognizable (i.e. in a soup) or does not represent a meat substitute (i.e. tofu noodles) does not qualify as a meat alternate.   

When considering processed tofu products such as links and sausages made from tofu as meat alternates for the reimbursable meal, the tofu ingredient must contain the required 5 grams of protein. The most appropriate way to ensure that the product meets Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) requirements is to request that the product be manufactured under the CN Labeling Program following a Federally approved quality control program.       

Until the Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs is updated, the following yield information can be used for purchasing and crediting:

1 pound of tofu with 37 grams of protein will have 7.28 quarter-cup servings per pound and provide 7.25 ounces of equivalent meat alternate for Food-based Menu Planning requirements.

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.


Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.

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.