University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal

 

Crediting Foods for CACFP Reimbursement

tips for crediting foods

Grains and Breads

Grains/breads are creditable for the CACFP if made from whole grain, bran, germ, or enriched meal and/or flour. Refined bread products are only creditable if they are enriched and/or fortified. See the Crediting Foods section for required serving sizes.

Grains and breads provide B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and vitamin B6) and vitamin E. They also provide minerals (iron, selenium, zinc, and copper). Whole-grain breads often have more vitamins and minerals than refined enriched breads.

  • Dietary fiber is found in significant amounts in most bread products. Check the label for fiber content. Breads with 2 or more grams of fiber per slice are good sources of fiber.
  • Flour is made by finely grinding wheat, rye, corn, oats, or other grains.
  • Meal is made by coarsely grinding wheat, rye, corn, oats, or other grains.
  • Whole grain is the edible part of grains. It includes the bran, germ, and endosperm.
    Whole-grain flour is made by grinding the entire grain. If a flour or meal does not contain the entire grain, it is not whole grain.
  • Refined grains have had their coarse parts removed. They have lost the bran and germ. When the bran and germ are removed, some essential nutrients, including fiber, are lost.
  • Enriched products are refined grains that have had nutrients (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and iron) added at levels specified by law. If a product is made from enriched flour, the ingredient list will state that enriched flour was used. If the product itself (rather than its flour) is enriched, the ingredient list will state that these nutrients were added.
  • Fortified products have had at least one vitamin, mineral, or protein added to the food. The food label will state that the product has been fortified.
  • Whole-wheat bread contains the whole grain, including the fiber-rich bran and germ. Whole wheat flour should be the first ingredient listed.
  • Wheat bread often has wheat flour or enriched wheat flour (not whole-wheat flour) as the main ingredient. This bread is low in fiber unless the manufacturer has added fiber.
  • Oat bread is usually white bread with a small amount of oats added. Check the ingredient list to see whether oats appear near the top of the list. If oats appear toward the end of the list, the bread contains little fiber from oats.

Fruit Juices

Full-strength (100%) fruit juices are creditable for the CACFP. Fruit drinks are not creditable. (Some state agencies credit fruit drinks with at least 50% fruit juice when twice the required amount is served).

  • Full-strength (100%) fruit juice is pure juice without added water, sweeteners, spices, or flavorings. Examples are apple (including pasteurized cider), grape, grapefruit, orange, pineapple, prune, tangerine, and any combination of full-strength juices.
  • Fruit drink is full-strength juice with added water. It may also contain added sweeteners (such as corn syrup), spices, flavorings, or other ingredients. Examples are nectars, lemonade, or cranberry juice cocktail. These contain less than 50% full-strength juice.
  • Read the labels carefully. Look for 100% fruit juice.

Processed Meats

Hot dogs, bologna, knockwurst, and Vienna sausage may be served in the CACFP. Only the meat in these products can be credited. If the binder/extender is a fortified vegetable protein product, it may be credited along with the meat portion of the binder. All other binders and extenders may not count as meat/meat alternates. Soy-based binders/extenders can generally count as vegetable protein products (VPP), and only when fortified and used according to regulations (7 CFR 226, Appendix A) can they be credited toward the meal pattern as a meat alternate.

Since it’s hard to determine the amount of meat in processed meat products, it’s recommended that meat products with any non-VPP binders/extenders not be credited. Meat products without binders/extenders may be fully credited based on weight. An exception to this rule is a meat product with fortified VPP as the only binder/extender.

  • Binders and extenders hold processed meats together and may help retain moisture. Examples include:

    Soy flour
    Soy protein concentrate
    Isolated soy protein
    Starchy vegetable flour
    Cereal
    Dried milk
    Calcium-reduced dried skim milk
    Carrageenan

Many processed meats contain large amounts of binders and extenders. You need to know the composition of processed meats to credit the meat/meat alternate portion.

Reading Ingredient Lists

You can use ingredient lists for some foods to determine if they meet the meal pattern requirements.

Processed Meats

Hot dogs
Ingredients: pork, turkey, water, salt, corn syrup, dextrose flavoring, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.

This product is all meat, without any binders/extenders. It is creditable toward the meal pattern.

Low Fat Polish Sausage
Ingredients: pork, water, turkey, beef, starch (modified food and vegetable), hydrolyzed milk protein, dextrose, corn syrup, salt, flavorings, autolyzed yeast, sodium lactate, sodium phosphate, gelatin, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), sodium nitrite.

This product contains modified starch and hydrolyzed milk protein, which are binders/extenders. It is creditable only if the manufacturer adequately describes the amount of meat in 1 serving. Only the meat portion is creditable.

Fruit Juices

Apple Mixed Fruit Juice
– 100% Pure Fruit Blend
Ingredients: concentrated juices (apple, grape, pear, and boysenberry), water, citric acid, calcium hydrate, malic acid, natural flavor, and vitamin C.

This is a blend of full-strength fruit juices. It is creditable.

Fruit Punch
Ingredients: water, corn syrup, fruit juice from concentrate (apple, cherry, pineapple), citric acid, xanthan gum, sodium citrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), gum arabic, glycerol abietate, brominated vegetable oil, citrus oils, natural and artificial flavors, artificial color (red #40).

This product contains less than 50% full-strength fruit juice. It is not creditable. Some state agencies and sponsors credit drinks with at least 50% fruit juice when twice the required amount is served.

Crediting Commercial Grains/Breads Products

You can use the Nutrition Facts panel and the product weight on the package label to determine the CACFP serving sizes of commercial grains/breads products. You can use this step-by-step worksheet as a guide. (You may want to download the pdf of this worksheet and make extra copies to credit multiple products.)

What Amount of Food Equals 1 CACFP Serving?

1. Determine the serving size of a food item for an older adult. Use the Meal Pattern chart in this section. 

____

2. Select the group that includes the food being evaluated. Use the Grains/Breads chart in this section. Determine the weight in grams of 1 CACFP serving.

____

3. Record the net weight stated on the food package.

____

4. Divide the package weight (step 3) by the CACFP serving weight (step 2) to determine the number of CACFP servings in the package.*

____

5. Use the Nutrition Facts label to determine the number of food items in the package. Multiply the serving size by the number of servings in the package.

____

6. Divide the total number of items in the package (step 5) by the number of  CACFP servings (step 4), to show how many items must be served for 1 CACFP serving for this age group. Round up to the nearest reasonable serving.*

____

*Due to rounding, a package may not have as many CACFP servings as calculated by weight.  

How Many CACFP Servings are in 1 Serving of a Food?

1. Determine the serving size of a food item for an older adult. Use the Meal Pattern chart in this section.

____

2. Select the group that includes the food being evaluated. Use the Grains/Breads chart in this section. Determine the weight in grams of 1 CACFP serving.

____

3. Use the Nutrition Facts label to determine the weight in grams of 1 serving of food.

____

4. Divide the weight of 1 serving of food (step 3) by the weight required for 1 CACFP serving (step 2). Round down to the nearest quarter serving.

____

The following example shows how to use the worksheet.

EXAMPLE:  What Amount of Food Equals 1 CACFP Serving?

1. Determine the serving size of a food item for an older adult. Use the Meal Pattern chart in this section.
1 slice of bread for a snack for an older adult

      1   

2. Select the group that includes the food being evaluated. Use the Grains/Breads chart in this section. Determine the weight in grams of 1 CACFP serving.
1 slice of bread = 25 grams

    25  

3. Record the net weight stated on the food package.
Pepperidge Farm Whole-Wheat Bread:
Net package weight = 680 grams

  680  

4. Divide the package weight (step 3) by the CACFP serving weight (step 2) to determine the number of CACFP servings in the package.*
680 g ÷ 25 g per CACFP serving = 27 CACFP servings

   27   

5. Use the Nutrition Facts label to determine the number of food items in the package. Multiply the serving size by the number of servings in the package.
1 slice x 20 slices per package = 20 slices

   20   

6. Divide the total number of items in the package (step 5) by the number of CACFP servings (step 4), to show how many items must be served for 1 CACFP serving for this age group. Round up to the nearest reasonable serving.*
20 slices ÷ 27 CACFP servings  =  0.75 slice (round up to 1 slice)

   1  

*Due to rounding, a package may not have as many CACFP servings as calculated by weight.  

EXAMPLE: How Many CACFP Servings are in 1 Serving of a Food?

1. Determine the serving size of a food item for an older adult. Use the Meal Pattern chart in this section.
1 slice of bread for a snack for an older adult

   1  

2. Select the group that includes the food being evaluated. Use the Grains/Breads chart in this section. Determine the weight in grams of 1 CACFP serving.
1 slice of bread = 25 grams

   25  

3. Use the Nutrition Facts label to determine the weight in grams of 1 serving  of food.     
1 slice of bread = 34 grams

   34  

4. Divide the weight of 1 serving of food (step 3) by the weight required for 1 CACFP serving (step 2). Round down to the nearest quarter serving.
34 g per slice ÷ 25 g per slice = 1.36 slice (round to 1¼ slice)

 1¼  

Crediting Combination Foods

Dishes that contain foods from more than one food group are combination dishes. It is recommended that combination dishes be credited for only 1 or 2 meal pattern components. This is to ensure that participants do not go hungry if they dislike a particular dish. For example, those who refuse to eat lasagna will miss out on consuming meat/meat alternate, fruit/vegetable, and grains/breads components in the meal.

It can be hard to determine the amount of bread, meat, fruit, or vegetables in some commercially prepared foods. Examples are the meat or cheese in frozen ravioli, the tomatoes in canned chili, or the breading on fish sticks. If you do not know the actual content of these food components, do not credit them toward meeting a meal component.

You can credit a commercially processed combination food if you can document that the food contains enough of a specific ingredient to count toward the meal pattern.  To do so, you must have a product analysis sheet on file. It must state the amount of cooked lean meat/meat alternate, grains/breads, and/or fruit/vegetable components in 1 serving of the food. It must be signed by an official representative of the manufacturer (not by a salesperson). For more information, contact your state agency.

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

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