School Meal Requirements
Our menus comply with the USDA Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), and also follow the U.S.Healthy School Challenge Award Gold Level menu planning. In 2010, Congress passed the HHFKA to ensure that all children in America have access to healthy, balanced meals, providing the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults.
Schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs must meet standards in the following areas:
- More Fruits and Vegetables
- Whole Grains
- Calorie Limits
- Sodium Limits
- Limits on Unhealthy Fat
- Low-Fat and Fat-Free Milk
- Free Water
For more information, view the School Nutrition Association's Standards for School Meals.
All CPS sites have implemented Offer Versus Serve (OVS), which allows students to decline some of the food offered in a reimbursable lunch or breakfast.
At breakfast, students are offered four components. Students must choose at least three of these items, and one must be a fruit or vegetable.
At lunch, students are offered five components. Students must choose at least three of these components,and one must be a fruit or vegetable.
USDA Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act 2021
The USDA Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update these nutrition standards for the first time in 15 years. The new regulations, effective beginning in 2012, require cafeterias to offer more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and limit sodium, calories and unhealthy fat in every school meal. Our menus exceed these USDA standards for nutritional content.
Key changes to school menus:
- Menu planning is required for three grade groups: K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.
- Portion sizes and recipes must be designed to meet the specific group.
- There are calorie minimum and maximum levels and limits as to how much meat/meat alternate (cheese, yogurt, etc.) and grains can offer in a week.
- We must stay within specified ranges for each grade group, which means some main entrees may not be as large as before.
- More fruits and vegetables will be available, including a vegetable salad bar in each school every day.
- All students may continue to take two ½ cup servings of vegetables and two ½ cup servings of fruit.
- Students must select at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable component for their trays
- No trans fats are allowed, and there are continued limits on saturated fat.
- We add no butter to our vegetables, use only low-fat cheeses and lean proteins, and oven bake instead of frying all items.
- All flavored milk will continue to be reduced sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, and fat free.