Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)


Crediting Foods in the SFSP

Foods and beverages served in reimbursable meals and snacks must meet specific requirements to credit toward the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) SFSP meal patterns.

General Crediting Guidance  |   Crediting Commercial Processed Products
Crediting Foods Made from Scratch  |   SFSP Meal Pattern Components

General Crediting Guidance

Food Buying Guide  |   Meal Patterns and Crediting  |   Portion Control   |    Weights/Measures


Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs (FBG) 

Meal Patterns and Crediting

Portion Control

Weights and Measures

Crediting Commercial Processed Products

SFSP sponsors must obtain appropriate crediting documentation for commercial products. For example, to credit a commercial breaded chicken patty as 2 ounces of the meat/meat alternates component, the manufacturer’s documentation must indicate that the serving contains 2 ounces of cooked chicken. Allowable documentation includes:

  • the original Child Nutrition (CN) label from the product carton or a photocopy or photograph of the CN label shown attached to the original product carton; or
  • a product formulation statement (PFS) signed by an official of the manufacturer stating the amount of each meal pattern component contained in one serving of the product.

These are the only acceptable documents for determining a commercial product’s contribution to the SFSP meal patterns. Without this documentation, SFSP sponsors cannot credit commercial products toward the SFSP meal patterns.

CN Labels  |   Product Formulation Statements  |   Documentation for Processed Foods

Child Nutrition (CN) Labels

Product Formulation Statements

Required Documentation for Processed Foods

Crediting Foods Made from Scratch

Foods made from scratch require a recipe that documents the SFSP meal pattern crediting information per serving. For example, to credit macaroni and cheese as 2 ounces of the meat/meat alternates component and 2 servings of the grains/breads component, the recipe must indicate that each serving contains 2 ounces of cheese and 1 cup of whole grain or enriched pasta. The CSDE encourages SFSP sponsors to use standardized recipes to ensure accurate crediting information.

Standardized Recipes

Crediting Requirements for SFSP Meal Pattern Components

The resources below provide guidance on meeting the crediting requirements for the four SFSP meal pattern components.

Milk  |   Meat/Meat Alternates  |   Vegetables/Fruits  |   Grains/Breads

Milk Component for the SFSP

The milk component requires fluid milk. Milk must be pasteurized, meet all state and local requirements, and contain vitamins A and D at levels specified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Allowable types of milk include unflavored or flavored whole milk, reduced-fat (2%) milk, low-fat (1%) milk, fat-free milk, buttermilk, lactose-reduced milk, acidophilus milk, and lactose-reduced or lactose-free milk.

  • Recommended fat content: Serve unflavored whole milk for age 1, unflavored low-fat or fat-free milk for ages 2-5, and unflavored or flavored low-fat or fat-free milk for ages 6 and older.
  • Serving size: Milk is measured in cups. The minimum creditable amount is the full 1-cup serving, with an exception for milk in smoothies.
  • Milk in smoothies: The minimum creditable amount of milk in a smoothie is ¼ cup. SFSP sponsors must have a standardized recipe or product formulation statement (PFS) to document the type and amount of milk in the smoothie serving. Refer to the CSDE's Crediting Smoothies in the SFSP.
  • Nondairy milk substitutes: Nondairy milk substitutes (such as soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, and oat milk) are allowed only for children whose disability restricts their diet. Juice, water, and other beverages cannot substitute for milk in SFSP meals and snacks for children without a disability.
  • Nondairy milk substitutes for school food authorities (SFAs) operating the SFSP: SFAs operating the SFSP may serve nondairy milk substitutes that meet the USDA’s nutrition standards for fluid milk substitutes and comply with the state beverage requirements for nondairy milk substitutes (Section 10-221q of the Connecticut General Statutes).  Refer to the CSDE's Allowable Milk Substitutes for Children with Disabilities in School Nutrition ProgramsThis option does not apply to non-school SFSP sites.
  • Overview of requirements: Requirements for the Milk Component of the SFSP Meal Patterns (CSDE)

General Crediting Guidance for Milk

Milk Substitutes (SFAs only

Meat/Meat Alternates Component for the SFSP

The meat/meat alternates (MMA) component includes fresh and frozen meats (e.g., lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, and shellfish), processed meats (e.g., chicken nuggets, deli meats, and fish sticks), canned meats (e.g., chicken, tuna, and salmon), and meat alternates (e.g., eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts and seeds and their butters, legumes (cooked dry beans and peas), tofu, and tempeh). Legumes credit as either MMA or vegetables but one serving cannot credit as both components in the same meal or snack. 

  • Serving size: MMA are measured in ounces. The minimum creditable amount is ¼ ounce.
  • Required quantities for 1 ounce of MMA: The required quantities depend on the type of meat or meat alternate and refer to the edible portion of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (i.e., without bone, breading, binders, fillers, extenders, liquids, or other ingredients). A 1-ounce serving of the MMA component equals 1 ounce of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish; 1 ounce of cheese (low-fat recommended); 2 ounces of cottage or ricotta cheese, cheese food/spread, or cheese substitute (low-fat recommended); ¼ cup of cooked legumes; ½ large egg; 2 tablespoons of nut/seed butter; 1 ounce of nuts/seeds; 1 ounce of commercial tofu (must contain at least 5 grams of protein in 2.2 ounces); 1 ounce of tempeh; 3 ounces of surimi; ½ cup or 4 ounces of yogurt or soy yogurt; and 1 ounce of alternate protein products (APPs). 
  • Limit for nuts and seeds at lunch/supper: Nuts and seeds cannot credit for more than half of the MMA component, i.e., no more than 1 ounce.
  • Commerical processed products: Commercial processed products require a CN label or PFS to document their meal pattern contribution. Products without this documentation cannot credit in school meals.
  • Overview of requirements: Requirements for the Meat/Meat Alternates Component of the SFSP Meal Patterns (CSDE)

General Crediting Guidance for MMA

Alternate Protein Products (APPs)

Commercial Products

Crediting Guidance and Food Buying Guide

Dried Meats


Nuts and Seeds: Crediting Nuts and Seeds in the SFSP (CSDE)

Tempeh and Surimi

Tofu and Tofu Products


Vegetables/Fruits Component for the SFSP

The vegetables/fruits component includes fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables; fresh, frozen, dried, and canned fruit (packed in water, full-strength juice, or light syrup); and pasteurized full-strength juice (fruit, vegetable, or combination). Legumes (cooked dry beans and peas) credit as either vegetables or MMA but one serving cannot credit as both components in the same meal or snack. The fruits component includes fresh fruit, frozen fruit, canned fruit (packed in water, full-strength juice, or light syrup), dried fruit, and pasteurized 100 percent full-strength fruit juice.

  • Serving size: Vegetables and fruits are measured by volume (cups). The minimum creditable amount is ⅛ cup.
  • Required servings at lunch/supper: Lunch and supper must contain at least two different servings of vegetables and/or fruits, i.e., two different vegetables, two different fruits, or one vegetable and one fruit. Mixed vegetables and mixed fruits credit as only one of the two required servings.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables:  A serving of fruit may include the juice in which it is packed. A serving of cooked vegetables must be drained. 
  • Juice limit: Juice cannot credit for more than half of the vegetables/fruits component at lunch and supper. Juice cannot be served at snack when milk is the only other snack component. The USDA recommends serving whole fruits (fresh, frozen, canned, and dried) more often than juice.
  • Overview of requirements: Requirements for the Vegetables/Fruits Component of the SFSP Meal Patterns (CSDE)

General Crediting Guidance for Vegetables/Fruits

Coconut: USDA Memo SP 34-2019, CACFP 15-2019, and SFSP 15-2019: Crediting Coconut, Hominy, Corn Masa, and Corn Flour in the Child Nutrition Programs

Juice: Crediting Juice in the SFSP (CSDE)



Grains/Breads Component for the SFSP

The grains/breads component includes foods made with creditable grains. Creditable grains include whole grains, enriched grains, bran (such as oat bran, wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran, and rye bran), and germ (such as wheat germ). Examples of creditable grain foods include breads and bread products (e.g., biscuits, bagels, rolls, tortillas, and muffins), snack products (e.g., crackers, animal crackers, graham crackers, hard pretzels, tortilla chips, and popcorn), cereal grains (e.g., buckwheat, brown rice, bulgur, and quinoa), ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereals, cooked breakfast cereals like oatmeal), pasta, and bread products used as an ingredient in another menu item such as combination foods (e.g., breading on fish or poultry and pizza crust in pizza) .

  • Serving size: Grains/breads are measured in servings. The minimum creditable amount is ¼ serving. The serving must meet the required weight (groups A-G) or volume (groups H-I) in the USDA’s Exhibit A chart (refer to the CSDE's Servings for Grains/Breads in the SFSP) or provide the minimum creditable grains (refer to the CSDE's Calculation Methods for Grains/Breads Servings in the SFSP). 
  • Breakfast cereals: RTE and cooked breakfast cereals must be whole grain, enriched, or fortified. One serving of RTE breakfast cereal must measure ¾ cup or weigh 1 ounce, whichever is less. One serving of cooked breakfast cereal must measure ½ cup cooked or weigh 25 grams dry. Breakfast cereals may be served at any meal or snack.
  • Grain-based desserts: Grain-based desserts cannot credit at lunch or supper and are restricted to certain types at breakfast and snack (refer to the CSDE's Servings for Grains/Breads in the SFSP).
  • Overview of Requirements: Requirements for the Grains/Breads Component of the SFSP Meal Patterns (CSDE)

General Crediting Guidance for Grains/Breads

Breakfast Cereals

Creditable Grains

Popcorn: USDA Memo SP 23-2019, CACFP 10-2019, and SFSP 9-2019: Crediting Popcorn in the Child Nutrition Programs

Serving Size for Grains/Breads

Whole Grains