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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, April 1, 2010
Imitation Cheese and Cheese Products

It has come to our attention that some schools are serving and claiming inappropriate cheese items as their meat/meat alternate component. There are certain types of cheese products that are not allowable to count toward the meat/meat alternate component.

Cheese items labeled “imitation cheese” or “cheese product” are not valid types of cheese and cannot be counted as meat/meat alternates. These types of cheese items have never been creditable components in the Child Nutrition Programs.

If you choose to continue to use items labeled “cheese product” or “imitation cheese,” you must not count these meals for reimbursement or ensure that each meal also contains a creditable meat/meat alternate. Cheese spreads and cheese foods that are creditable can be found in the Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs in Section 1 pages 23-25.

School Meal Programs that are found noncompliant with this cheese requirement will be subject to money being reclaimed for all meals claimed inappropriately.

To ensure that creditable products are being used, we encourage schools to use products that contain the CN label. The CN label is placed on products that are creditable for reimbursement in Child Nutrition Programs.  More information about CN labeling can be found in the Food Buying Guide in Appendix C.

Any questions regarding cheese items should be directed to your respective Child Nutrition Representative.


USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted 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; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.