University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal

 

Crediting Foods for CACFP Reimbursement

CACFP regulations: crediting meat and meat alternates

  • Lunches and suppers must contain a serving of meat or meat alternates as specified in the meal pattern.
  • Snacks may include meat or meat alternates as 1 of the 2 components.
  • Foods that count as meat and meat alternates are as follows:
    • Meat includes lean meat, poultry, or fish.
    • Meat alternates include cheese, eggs, cooked dry beans or peas, nuts and seeds, and their butters (except for acorn, chestnut, and coconut), and yogurt.
  • Meat and meat alternates must be served in a main dish, or in a main dish with one other item, to meet this requirement.
  • The usual serving size of meat or meat alternates for adults is 2 ounces at meals and 1 ounce at snacks. To count toward meeting any part of the meat/meat alternate requirement, a menu item must provide a minimum of 1 ounce of cooked lean meat or equivalent. The rest of the required serving must be met by adding other meat or meat alternates.
  • Nuts and seeds may fulfill no more than 1/2 of the meat/meat alternate requirement for lunch and supper, or all of the meat/meat alternate requirement for a snack.
  • Vegetable protein products may count as meeting part of the meat or meat alternate requirement. State agencies or sponsors can provide information on the preparation, serving, and crediting of vegetable protein products.
Meat/Meat Alternatives
 
Creditable?
   
Food Item Yes No Comments Nutrition Information
Acorns   X   Acorns have a low protein content.
Baco-bits   X   Baco-bits are low in protein and high in fat.
Bacon or imitation bacon products   X   Bacon is low in protein and high in fat. It is also high in sodium.
Bacon, turkey X   See: processed meat and poultry products.  
Beans, canned or dry X   Beans and peas cooked from dry count as a meat/meat alternate. Canned black, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, etc. beans count as a meat/meat alternate or as a fruit/vegetable, but not both. Canned green or yellow beans and green peas count only as vegetables. The types of beans and peas that can count as meat/meat alternates are good sources of protein and fiber, and are low in fat.
Beef jerky X   Beef jerky made with pure beef may be credited as a snack only. The label should state: “beef jerky chopped and formed,” “natural jerky,” or “beef jerky sausage.” Beef jerky does not serve the customary function of meat in a meal. Beef jerky is very high in sodium.
Bologna X   See: processed meat and poultry products. Bologna and other processed meats can be high in fat and sodium. Like all processed meats, bologna has less protein than fresh meat by weight.
Canadian bacon X   1 lb. (16 oz.) will yield 11 servings (1 oz. each) of cooked meat. Refer to the Food Buying Guide or your state agency or sponsor for information. Canadian bacon is high in sodium.
Canned or frozen food, commercial: beef stew, chili mac, meat stew, pizza, pot pies, ravioli, etc. X   These are creditable only if a product analysis sheet signed by an official of the manufacturer (not a salesperson) is on file that states the amount of cooked lean meat/meat alternate per serving. Processed combination foods such as these are usually higher in fat and sodium than homemade foods.
Canned pressed luncheon meat (Spam) X   See: processed meat and poultry products. Canned pressed luncheon meat is usually high in fat and sodium.
Cheese, cottage X   2 oz. (1/4 cup) cottage cheese  = 1 oz. meat. Cottage cheese requires a greater serving size than meat because it contains less protein per ounce.
Cheese, cream   X Due to low protein and high fat content, a serving size that would provide enough protein would be excessively large. Cream cheese has more fat and less protein than other cheeses.
Cheese food and cheese spread (Velveeta, Cheese Whiz, and reduced-fat, lite, or non-fat substitutes) X   2 oz. cheese food or cheese spread = 1 oz. meat. Cheese food and cheese spread are often high in sodium, so look for lower sodium varieties. Compared to natural cheeses, these foods have more moisture and less protein.
Cheese, imitation   X Products labeled “imitation” are not creditable.  
Cheese, natural or processed (American, brick, cheddar, Colby, Monterey jack, mozzarella, Muenster, provolone, Swiss); includes reduced-fat, lite, or non-fat substitutes X   1 oz. natural or processed cheese = 1 oz. meat. Some cheeses are high in fat and cholesterol. Cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins A and D.
Cheese, Neufchatel   X Due to low protein and high fat content, a serving size that would provide enough protein would be excessively large. Neufchatel cheese has less protein and more fat than creditable cheeses.
Cheese, Parmesan X   6 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese = 1 oz. meat
If served as a garnish, the cheese is not creditable because the serving size is too small.
 
Cheese, pimento X   2 oz. pimento cheese = 1 oz. meat.  
Cheese products   X   “Cheese product” is a category name and is not standardized.
Cheese, ricotta X   2 oz. (1/4 cup) ricotta cheese = 1 oz. meat. Ricotta cheese has less protein and a higher moisture content than natural cheese.
Cheese, Romano X   6 Tbsp. cheese = 1 oz. meat
If served as a garnish, the cheese is not creditable because the serving size is too small.
 
Chestnuts   X   Chestnuts are very low in protein.
Chicken nuggets X   See: processed meat and poultry products.  
Chitterlings   X Chitterlings are too low in protein to be credited. Chitterlings are high in fat.
Coconuts   X Coconuts cannot count as either a meat/meat alternate or a fruit/vegetable. Coconuts are very low in protein.
Corndogs X   The frankfurter can count as a meat/meat alternate if it meets criteria for frankfurters. See: batter-type coating in the grains/breads section additional crediting information. Corndogs are high in fat.
Crab, imitation   X See: imitation seafood. No standard of identity.
Cream cheese   X See: cheese, cream.  
Deviled eggs X   Cooked eggs may be credited.  See: eggs. Deviled eggs are high in fat and cholesterol. For less fat, use a reduced-fat mayonnaise instead of regular mayonnaise.
Eggs X   Cooked eggs may be credited. Eggs cannot be credited when part of a homemade custard or pudding. Eggs are a good source of protein. However, they contain a significant amount of cholesterol.
Fish X     Fish is a good source of protein and iron. Many varieties have less fat than meats. Try to broil or bake fish rather than frying it.
Fish, non-commercial
(home-caught)
  X For safety reasons, home-caught fish should not be served.  
Fish sticks or nuggets X   Only the edible fish portion counts toward the meat requirement.  
Frankfurters, imitation   X    
Frankfurters, meat and poultry X   See: processed meat and poultry products. Up to 80% of the calories in frankfurters may be from fat. They may also be high in sodium and cholesterol.
Game (venison, squirrel, rabbit, etc.)   X For health and safety reasons, these are not creditable unless inspected and approved by the appropriate federal, state, or local agency.  
Garbanzo beans X   See: beans, canned or dry.  
Hamhocks   X   They are high in fat and low in protein by weight.
Home-slaughtered meat and poultry   X To be credited, home-raised animals must be slaughtered at a USDA facility with a USDA inspector on duty. Poultry is subject to state inspection.  
Hot dogs X   See: processed meat and poultry products . Up to 80% of the calories in hot dogs may be from fat. They may also be high in sodium and cholesterol.
Imitation seafood   X   No standard of identity.
Kidney X      
Kidney beans X   See: beans, canned or dry products.  
Legumes X   See: beans, canned or dry products.  
Liver X     Liver is high in fat and cholesterol.
Liverwurst X   See: processed meat and poultry products.  
Luncheon meat X   See: processed meat and poultry products.  
Macaroni and cheese, commercial   X The powdered cheese in commercial mixes cannot count toward the meat requirement. See macaroni in the grains/breads section.  
Macaroni and cheese, homemade X   The cheese in homemade macaroni and cheese may be credited based on the amount of cheese in each serving.See macaroni in the grains/breads section.  
Meat sauce, commercial   X The meat in commercial sauce cannot be credited.  
Meat sauce, homemade X   The meat in homemade sauce can be credited based on the amount of meat in each serving.  
Neufchatel cheese   X See: cheese, Neufchatel.  
Nuts X   Nuts and seeds may count as a serving of meat alternate for a snack, but as only 1/2 serving of meat alternate at lunch or supper. Serve only ground or finely chopped nuts and seeds to adults who are at risk of choking. Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein. They have no cholesterol, but are high in fat, and are low in iron.
Nut or seed meal or flour   X Nut or seed meal or flour cannot be credited unless it meets the requirements for vegetable protein products. Contact your state agency or sponsor for information.  
Pasta products with meat, commercial X   See: canned or frozen food, commercial.  
Pasta products with meat,  homemade X   Pasta products may be credited based on the amount of meat in each serving. See: pasta in the grains/breads section.  
Peanut butter, reduced fat X      
Peanut butter, regular X   Unlike nuts, peanut butter and other 100% nut butters can fulfill 100% of the meat/meat alternate requirement for lunch or supper. Peanut butter is high in fat. It has no cholesterol.
Peanut butter spreads   X Peanut butter spreads do not meet the FDA Standard of Identity for peanut butter.  
Peas, dry or canned X   See: beans, dry or canned.  
Pepperoni X   See: processed meat and poultry products. Pepperoni is high in fat and sodium.
Pig’s feet   X Pig’s feet provide an insufficient amount of meat. Pig’s feet are high in fat.
Pig neck bones   X Pig neck bones provide an insufficient amount of meat. Pig neck bones are high in fat.
Pig tails   X Pig tails provide an insufficient amount of meat. Pig tails are high in fat.
Pimento cheese X   See: cheese, pimento.  
Pinto beans X   See: beans, canned or dry in this section.  
Pizza, commercial X   See: canned or frozen food, commercial.  
Pizza, homemade X   Homemade pizza may be credited based on the amount of meat/meat alternate in each serving. See: pizza crust in the grains/breads section.  
Polish sausage X   See: processed meat and poultry products. Polish sausage, like most sausages, is high in fat and sodium.
Pot pies, commercial X   See: canned or frozen food, commercial. The crust and sauce may both be high in fat.
Pot pies, homemade X   Homemade pot pies can be credited based on the amount of meat/meat alternate in each serving. See: pie crust in the grains/breads section. The crust and sauce may both be high in fat.
Potted meat X   See: processed meat and poultry products. Potted meat is high in sodium.
Powdered cheese in macaroni   X See: macaroni and cheese, commercial.  
Pressed meat products X   See: processed meat and poultry products. Pressed meat products are high in sodium. Use them infrequently.
Processed meat and poultry products X   Processed meat and poultry products and sausages may be served in the CACFP. Only the meat in these products can be credited. Since many processed meats contain large amounts of binders and extenders, you need to know their composition to properly credit the meat/meat alternate portion. Meat products without binders/extenders may be fully credited based on weight. For information on crediting meats with vegetable protein products as an extender, refer to the processed meats tips under Tips for Crediting Foods in this section. To provide a reasonable serving size, it is recommended that all meat or poultry products be purchased.
Quiche X   The eggs, meat, and/or cheese in quiche may be credited based on the amount of meat/meat alternate in each serving. See: pie crust in the grains/breads section for crediting information.  
Ravioli, commercial X   See: canned or frozen food, commercial.  
Salt pork   X Salt pork is not creditable due to its high fat and low protein content.  
Sausage X   See: processed meat and poultry products.  
Scrapple   X Scrapple provides an insufficient amount of meat.  
Seeds X   See: nuts in this section.  
Shellfish X   Only the edible portion of shellfish is creditable. The shellfish must be fully cooked.  
Soups, homemade X   Homemade soups with at least 1/4 oz. meat/meat alternate per serving may contribute toward the meat requirement.  
Soups, commercial: bean, lentil, or split pea only X   3/4 cup of bean, lentil, or split pea soup may count as 1.5 ounce (3/8 cup) meat alternate. Commercial soups are often high in sodium.
Soups, commercial: other than bean, lentil, or split pea   X These soups contain insufficient quantities of meat.  
Soy burgers or other soy products X   Vegetable protein products may be credited if the quantity (by weight) of the fully hydrated vegetable protein product does not exceed 30 parts to 70 parts meat, poultry, or seafood on an uncooked basis.  
Soy butter X   Soy butter made from 100% soy nuts is creditable. It is a good alternative to peanut butter, and is nutritionally comparable to meat or other meat alternates.  
Tempeh   X Tempeh is fermented soybean. Because there is no standard of identity for this food, and it could vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, it cannot be credited.  
Tofu   X Tofu is soybean curd. Because there is no standard of identity for this food, and it could vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, it cannot be credited.  
Tripe X     Tripe has low quality protein.
Vienna sausage X   See: processed meat and poultry products.  
Yogurt, plain or sweetened and flavored X   Yogurt is creditable as a meat/meat alternate. 4 oz. (by weight) or 1/2 cup plain or sweetened flavored yogurt is equivalent to 1 oz. meat/meat alternate. Yogurt is a good source of calcium and phosphorus.
Yogurt products:
frozen yogurt, yogurt bars, yogurt coating on fruit or nuts
  X There is not enough yogurt in these products to be creditable.  

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