Food Crediting in Child Nutrition Programs: Request for Information
The National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program (Child Nutrition Programs), which are administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), play a critical role in ensuring that America's children have access to the nutritious food they need to learn and succeed in the classroom, afterschool, and during the summer. It is FNS' responsibility to establish and support the meal patterns and nutrition standards (collectively referred to as meal patterns) in the Child Nutrition Programs that advance the goals of providing nutritious and satisfying meals to a broad population of children. At the same time, FNS works to simplify the menu planning process for Program operators to promote the efficient use of Program funds and provide a wide variety of food choices to menu planners and children. In order to claim Federal reimbursement, Child Nutrition Program operators must serve meals and snacks that meet the minimum meal pattern requirements of the respective Program. Crediting is the process designed by FNS to specify how individual food items contribute to the Child Nutrition Programs' meal patterns. Several factors impact how food products can credit toward reimbursable meals, such as volume, weight, and overall nutrient profile. The purpose of this Request for Information is to help FNS gather feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders on how FNS' crediting system can best address today's evolving food and nutrition environment, as well as to offer first-rate customer service to those operating and benefitting from the Child Nutrition Programs. FNS welcomes comments from all interested stakeholders. While FNS is interested in your general comments about the crediting process, FNS also invites comments on the crediting of several specific food products. FNS is especially interested in understanding both the possible benefits and any negative impacts associated with potential changes to how certain foods may or may not credit.