Federal Guidelines for Identifying Meal Components


Sample Menu

meat/meat alternate

hamburger patty


hamburger bun



cooked green beans

fresh baby carrots




There are a number of points to remember in identifying meal components for the School Lunch Program. These are listed below. A minimum of three different meal components in the full portion amount is required to make up a reimbursable school lunch.  In 2012-13, one of the three selected must be a fruit or vegetable.

Meat/meat alternate. One to two ounces of meat/meat alternate is offered each day at each grade level. Serving size varies based on grade group.  

Grain/bread. One to two ounces of grain/bread is offered each day at each grade level.  A serving of bread and/or bread alternate must weigh a minimum of one ounce. Serving size varies based on grade group. 

Vegetable. A daily serving of 3/4 cup to 1 cup vegetable by grade group that reflects a variety over the course of the week.  Vegetable subgroup weekly requirements for:

  • Dark Green (e.g., broccoli, collard greens, spinach)
  • Red/Orange (e.g., carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
  • Beans/Peas (Legumes) (e.g., kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas)
  • Starchy (e.g., corn, green peas, white potatoes)
  • Other (e.g., onions, green beans, cucumbers)
  • Additional vegetables to meet 3 3/4 - 5 cup weekly total

Fruit.  A daily serving of 1/2 - 1 cup daily by grade group.  

Milk. We must offer 8 ounces of skim white, non fat chocolate, and 1% white milk daily.

Many of our entrees contain more than one meal component. This happens most often when the entree contains the meat or meat alternate and the grain/bread (for example, pizza, hamburger on bun, or breaded chicken nuggets). In each of these cases, if a full portion is given to the child, two meal components would be served. If a child takes only half of any of these, you could count the serving as one full bread component.

After a child has three meal components on his or her tray, we may serve the fourth, fifth, and sometimes the sixth meal component in either a partial serving or the full portion amount. A child must select either a vegetable or fruit as one of the minimum 3 required meal components.

School lunch is available in all schools. Elementary, middle and high schools offer meal choices that meet the federal requirements of providing one-third of a child’s daily nutritional requirement. The high school lunch program also includes an a la carte menu.