Meal Patterns for Preschoolers in School Nutrition Programs

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Preschool Meal Pattern Training for the School Nutrition Programs

Preschoolers eating family style with assistance from their teacher


The CSDE's Preschool Meal Pattern Training for the School Nutrition Programs is a series of eight recorded modules that provide comprehensive guidance on complying with the preschool meal patterns for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)School Breakfast Program (SBP), Afterschool Snack Program (ASP) of the NSLP, and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) of the NSLP. This training program applies to all sponsors of the school nutrition programs that serve meals and snacks to preschoolers, including public schools, private schools, and residential child care institutions (RCCIs). 

  • Target audience: School food service staff and other school staff who plan, prepare, and serve preschool meals and snacks.
  • Documenting participation: After viewing each module, participants will complete a brief knowledge check. Participants may print their knowledge check score to document participation in each module.
  • Accessing the videos: The training module videos are housed in Qualtrics. Click on each module below to register and view the video.
  • Professional development training hours: School food service staff may use these training modules to count toward the annual training hours required by the USDA’s Professional Standards for School Nutrition Program Professionals. For more information, refer to the CSDE’s Professional Standards Topics and Training Hours for the Preschool Meal Pattern Training.
Module Resources

1: Introduction to Training (length 16:34)

Introduces the Preschool Meal Pattern Training for the School Nutrition Programs, provides an overview of the modules and training objectives, identifies common acronyms and abbreviations, describes how to use the toolbar to navigate the training modules, and identifies resources for guidance and training on the preschool meal patterns.

2: Introduction to Preschool Meal Patterns (length 46:08)

Reviews the NSLP, SBP, and ASP preschool meal pattern requirements and identifies resources for guidance and training on the preschool meal patterns. Topics include the federal preschool meal pattern legislation, the requirements for food-based menu planning (including food components, minimum portions, and restrictions/nutrition requirements for certain foods), the preschool meal patterns and menu planning considerations for breakfast, lunch, and snack, co-mingled meal service, a knowledge check on co-mingled meals, and the USDA’s recommended best practices for preschool meals and snacks.

3: Meal Pattern Comparison of Preschool and Grades K-12 (length 37:02)

Compares the preschool meal patterns to the meal patterns for grades K-12 and highlights the key differences (including the meal pattern components and servings, and the crediting requirements for each of the five meal pattern components) and identifies resources for guidance and training on the meal pattern differences.

4: Milk Component (length 31:49)

Reviews the requirements and crediting information for the milk component and identifies resources for guidance and training. Topics include the required preschool meal pattern servings, the federal regulatory standards for fluid milk, allowable types of milk, the requirement for menu documentation, the requirements for fluid milk substitutes for children without a disability, the types of noncreditable milk, and a knowledge check about crediting milk in the preschool meal patterns.

5: Meat/Meat Alternates (MMA) Component (length 35:58)

Reviews the requirements and crediting information for the MMA component and identifies resources for guidance and training. Topics include an overview of the MMA requirements, the required preschool meal pattern servings, crediting requirements for different types of MMA (commercial processed products, cheeses, legumes including roasted legumes and pasta made of 100 percent legume flours, nuts and seeds and their butters, yogurt and soy yogurt, tofu, tempeh, surimi, alternate protein products [APPs]) and noncreditable MMA. 

6: Fruits Component and Vegetables Component (length 36:30)

Reviews the requirements and crediting information for the fruits component and the vegetables component and identifies resources for guidance and training. Topics include the required preschool meal pattern servings, the juice limit, crediting requirements for different types of fruits (fresh fruits, frozen fruits, canned fruits, dried fruits, pureed fruits and vegetables, smoothies made with pureed fruits and vegetables, and coconut), crediting requirements for different types of vegetables (raw leafy greens, canned vegetables, legumes, dried vegetables, and soups), noncreditable fruits and vegetables, and the USDA’s Best Practices for fruits and vegetables in preschool meals and snacks.

7: Grains Component (length 38:47)

Reviews the requirements and crediting information for the grains component and identifies resources for guidance and training. Topics include the required preschool meal pattern servings (ounce equivalents [oz eq]), allowable grain foods, the preschool WGR requirement and menu planning considerations, the preschool WGR criteria and methods to determine if foods are WGR, grain-based desserts, serving the same grain foods to preschoolers and grades K-12, methods for determining a grain food’s oz eq contribution, and a knowledge check on grain-based desserts.

 

8: Meal Service for Preschoolers (length 26:14)

Reviews the requirements and considerations for the preschool meal service options and identifies resources for guidance and training. Topics include the allowable types of meal service (pre-plated meal service, cafeteria-style meal service, family-style meal service, and combination-style meal service), the requirements for classroom meals, considerations for offer versus serve (OVS) with co-mingled meal service, and the USDA’s requirement for making potable water available to students during the meal service.