November 19, 2007
Alternate Menu Planning Approaches – Calorie and Nutrient Standards
Special Nutrition Programs
Child Nutrition Programs
Several State agencies (SAs) have expressed interest in developing and/or approving
alternate menu planning approaches in the National School Lunch Program and
School Breakfast Program as referenced in 7CFR 210.10(l)(3) and 7CFR 220.8(h)(2).
This memorandum clarifies the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and
Nutrition Service (FNS) policy regarding the calorie and nutrient requirements for
meals planned using alternate menu planning approaches.
As background, section 9 of the National School Lunch Act mandates that school
lunches and school breakfasts provide one-third and one-fourth of the daily
recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) and energy allowances, respectively, when
averaged over a week. The RDAs reflect nutrient intake levels that meet the needs of
most children by targeting nutrient levels needed not only to prevent nutrient
deficiencies, but also to reduce the risk of chronic disease. These nutrient standards
are found in 7CFR 210.10(c) and (d) and 7CFR 220.8(b) and (c).
As cited in 7CFR 210.10(l)(4)(iii) and 7 CFR 220.8(h)(3)(iii), an alternate menu
planning approach must meet the statutory requirements for one-third or one-fourth
of the RDAs for calories and the specified nutrients, indicate the age/grade groups
served, and how the nutrient levels are met for those age/grade groups.
SAs and school food authorities (SFAs) may use established age/grade groups or
create unique age/grade groups as part of an alternate menu planning approac