Do you find yourself beating your head against the wall about the whole grains requirement for the food program? It’s not as hard as you think and this will make it even easier!
CACFP Meal Pattern-Whole Grains
One whole grain food must be served per day. This can be for breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack. This means that you can serve your whole grain item at breakfast and not worry about it for the rest of the day.
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Your food program is allowed to disallow foods at their discretion so check with them and make sure the items you choose from the list are creditable by the program you’re on.
Sometimes we get bogged down in thinking that we need to serve whole grains at every meal, but that’s not the case. We just need one. This could be in pasta, bread, buns, muffins, crackers, cereals, etc.
Providers must document their menu showing whole grains are served, such as whole wheat bread, whole grain-rich, etc. So, when you fill out your menus, just put -wg behind the food item and you’re done.
If whole grains are not served, the meal with the lowest reimbursement rate will be disallowed and not reimbursed.
Food program for daycare
All children do not have to be in attendance when the whole grain is served. The rules are once per day for the facility, not per child. If the facility has to close for extenuating circumstances and the planned whole grain meal is not served, the facility will not be penalized for the missed meal as long as it is demonstrated that the meal was planned. For more information from USDA about whole grains, check this out.
USDA requirements for whole grains
Check out the requirements from USDA on what qualifies as a whole grain:
“1. The product is found on any State agency’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)-approved whole grain food list. Any grain product found on a State agency’s WIC-approved whole grain food list meets CACFP whole grain-rich criteria
- The product is labeled as “whole wheat” and has a Standard of Identity issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Only breads with these exact product names conform to an FDA Standard of Identity and can be considered whole grain-rich using this method: • whole wheat bread • entire wheat bread • graham bread • whole wheat rolls • entire wheat rolls • graham rolls • whole wheat buns • entire wheat buns • graham buns Only pastas with these exact product names conform to an FDA Standard of Identity and can be considered whole grain-rich using this method: • whole wheat macaroni product • whole wheat macaroni • whole wheat spaghetti • whole wheat vermicelli.
- The product includes one of the following Food and Drug Administration approved whole-grain health claims on its packaging, exactly as written: “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.” OR “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease.”
- The NSLP whole grain-rich criteria apply for all grain products with the exception of grain-based desserts, which are not creditable under CACFP.
- The food meets FNS’ Rule of Three, a three-step process for identifying whole grain-rich products in the CACFP. To meet the Rule of Three as a whole grain-rich product, the first ingredient (or second after water) must be whole grain, and the next two grain ingredients (if any) must be whole grains, enriched grains, bran, or germ. Any grain derivatives (by-products of grains) may be disregarded. Any non-creditable grain ingredients (e.g., flours that are not enriched or whole) that are labeled as 2 percent or less of product weight are considered insignificant and may also be disregarded (see below for a list of these ingredients). When applying the Rule of Three to the grain portion of mixed dishes, such as pizza crusts and tortillas for burritos, the first grain ingredient must be whole grain and the next two grain ingredients (if any) must be whole grains, enriched grains, bran, or germ.
When applying the Rule of Three for ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, if the first grain ingredient is a whole grain and the cereal is fortified, the product meets the whole grain rich criteria. In this situation, the second and third grain ingredients, if any, do not need to be considered.
- Proper documentation from a manufacturer or a standardized recipe demonstrates that whole grains are the primary grain ingredient by weight. As a reminder, both infant cereals and ready-to-eat cereals must be iron-fortified to be reimbursable in the infant meal pattern. Breakfast cereals must meet the sugar limit and be made from enriched or whole grain meal or flour, or be fortified, to be creditable in the CACFP.
Creditable breakfast cereals for CACFP
There are several ways for centers and day care homes to determine if a breakfast cereal is within the sugar limit. A breakfast cereal must meet only one (not all) of the following methods to determine if a breakfast cereal meets the sugar limit:
1. Use any State agency’s WIC approved breakfast cereal list. Similar to CACFP, all WIC approved breakfast cereals must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce (21.2 grams of sugar per 100 grams).
2. Use USDA’s Team Nutrition training worksheet Choose Breakfast Cereals That Are Lower in Added Sugars (https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/cacfp-meal-pattern-trainingworksheets), which includes a chart with common breakfast cereal serving sizes and the maximum amount of sugar the breakfast cereal may contain per serving, which should eliminate the need to perform sugar limit calculations for many operators.
3. Use one of the following methods to calculate the sugar content per dry ounce. Standard Method • First, find the serving size in grams at the top of the Nutrition Facts label, and find the sugars listed towards the middle. • Next, divide the total sugars by the serving size in grams. Regional Directors State Directors Page 10 • If the answer is equal to or less than 0.212, then the cereal is within the required sugar limit and may be creditable in CACFP.
Check labels on these for first ingredient whole grain.”
Here is a list of the items I have found that qualify as whole grain component for the food program. It’s in no way an exhaustive list, but these do all qualify, so you can use it to plan your menu. At the bottom of the article is a pdf you can print out and take to the store with you if that helps.
Whole Grain Cereals
Frosted Shredded Wheat
Berry Berry Kix
Crunchy Oat Squares
Toasted Whole Grain Oats
Heart to Heart
Honey Toasted Oat
Warm Cinnamon Oat
7 Whole Grain Flakes
7 Whole Grain Honey Puffs
7 Whole Grain Nuggets
7 Whole Grain Puffs
Frosted Mini Wheats
Malt O Meal
Blueberry Mini Spooners
Frosted Mini Spooners
Strawberries and Cream Mini Spooners
Grape Nuts Flakes
Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar
Oatmeal Squares Cinnamon
Malt O Meal
Cream of Wheat
Cream of Rice
Whole Grain Breads
Best Choice 100% Whole Wheat
Bimbo 100% Whole Wheat
Great Value 100% Whole Wheat
Mrs. Baird’s 100% Whole Wheat
Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat
Ozark Hearth 100% Whole Wheat
Roman Meal/Sungrain 100% Whole Wheat
Wonder 100% Whole Wheat
Sara Lee Soft and Smooth 100% Whole Grain
100% Whole Wheat Hamburger and Hot Dog Bugs
Whole Grain Pasta
Allegra Whole Wheat
Barilla Whole Wheat
Gia Russa Whole Wheat
Hogsdon Mill Whole Wheat
Racconto Whole Wheat
Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat
Whole Grain Tortillas
Best Choice 100% Whole Wheat
Don Pancho Whole Wheat
Guerrero Whole Wheat
La Bandarita Whole Wheat
Mama Lupes 100% Whole Wheat
Mission Whole Wheat
Native Tortilla 100% Whole Wheat
Ortega Whole Wheat
Santa Fe Tortilla Company Whole Wheat
Tia Rosa 100% Whole Wheat
Tio Santi 100% Whole Wheat
Whole Grain Bagels
Thomas Hearty Grains 100% Whole Wheat
Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat
Crafters WG Bagels
Whole Grain English Muffins
Healthy Life 100% Whole Wheat
Signature Kitchens 100% Whole Wheat
Aunt Millie’s 100% Whole Wheat
Orowheat 100% Whole Wheat
365 Everyday Value Wheat
Bake Crafters WG
Thomas Heart Muffins 100% Whole Wheat
Nature’s Grains 51% Whole Grain
Orowheat Whole Grain and Flax
Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain
365 Whole Wheat
Whole Grain Crackers for CACFP
Savoritz Original Thin Wheat
Savoritz Original Woven Wheat
Whole Grain Goldfish
Scooby-Doo! Graham Cracker Sticks
Other foods that count as whole grains
Rice Cakes that are made with Brown Rice
Boboli 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Obviously, you can make your own whole grain foods as well. There are a few mixes that will count towards the whole grain requirement when used.
Whole Grain Mixes
Kodiak Cakes Protein Packed Muffin Mix
Aunt Jemima Whole Wheat Blend Pancake and Waffle Mix
Meijer Whole Wheat Pancake and Waffle Mix
Bob’s Red Mill Organic 7 Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix
Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix
King Arthur Flour Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix
Make your own whole grain bread
We make our own bread at Little Sprouts because of my food allergies. We make awesome whole wheat bread, rolls, banana bread, bagels, buns, muffins, pancakes, and pizza dough from freshly milled flour from wheat berries we grind ourselves. You can buy whole wheat flour and make this bread with it as well.
If you’re making bread, pizza, bagels or rolls, you want to use hard wheat and for non-yeast breads like banana bread, pancakes and muffins, you want to use soft wheat. If the recipe we’re using calls for white flour, we just substitute whole wheat flour.
You can use your regular recipe for biscuits, pancakes, muffins, waffles, sandwich bread, rolls, buns, pretzels, quick breads, etc., and just substitute at least half of the flour in the recipe for whole grain flour. If you do less than 100% whole grain flour, the other percentage must be enriched. I grind my own flour for the homemade bread I make.
Here is the grain mill I use to grind my wheat berries into flour.
And remember again, you only have to serve one whole grain item per day, so let the rest of your meals be simple.
CACFP Whole Grain Eligible Products by Brand
If you have found any other whole grain products that aren’t listed here, I’d love for you to comment and I can add them if they meet the USDA requirements.
My hope is for this article to help simplify the whole grain requirement for you! Thanks so much for checking it out. For more mealtime inspiration, check out cacfp breakfast ideas, lunch ideas, and snack ideas. For help in planning your daycare menu, click on the highlighted text. If you need help with your meat and meat alternates, or fruits and vegetables check this out.
For more tips to make running your home daycare easier, click here.
If you’re looking for premade newsletters to communicate with parents monthly that you can edit for your own, these might help!
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