Frequently Asked Questions

Cereal

Can sugar be added to hot cereal, such as oatmeal or cream of wheat, if the amount of sugar added fits within the sugar limit for cereals in the Eat Smart Guidelines, without counting as a sweet item?
If the amount of sugar served fits within the sugar guideline for cereals (limit 6 grams of sugar for the Advanced level, and 9 grams of sugar for the Intermediate level), it will not count as a sweet item.  If the amount of added sugar were to exceed the limit, it would then be considered a sweet item. 1 teaspoon of sugar contains 4 grams of sugar, so it does not take much to meet (or exceed) the limit. If the sugar were added during food preparation, a recipe will be needed with the Eat Smart application, indicating the amount of cereal and the amount of sugar, and the number of servings prepared. Please submit the recipe with the application packet for evaluation.
If a cereal contains more than 6 grams of sugar at the Advanced level, or 9 grams of sugar at the Intermediate level, can it still be served and count as a sweet item?
Yes.
Would oatmeal (or other low sugar, whole grain cereal) be listed as both a cereal (guideline B1) and as a whole grain (guideline B3)?
Yes.

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Sweet Items/High-Fat Snack Items

Can sugar be added to hot cereal, such as oatmeal or cream of wheat, if the amount of sugar added fits within the sugar limit for cereals in the Eat Smart Guidelines, without counting as a sweet item?
If the amount of sugar served fits within the sugar guideline for cereals (limit 6 grams of sugar for the Advanced level, and 9 grams of sugar for the Intermediate level), it will not count as a sweet item. If the amount of added sugar were to exceed the limit, it would then be considered a sweet item. 1 teaspoon of sugar contains 4 grams of sugar, so it does not take much to meet (or exceed) the limit. If the sugar were added during food preparation, a recipe will be needed with the Eat Smart application, indicating the amount of cereal and the amount of sugar, and the number of servings prepared. Please submit the recipe with the application packet for evaluation.
If a cereal contains more than 6 grams of sugar at the Advanced level, or 9 grams of sugar at the Intermediate level, can it still be served and count as a sweet item?
Yes.
If a canned fruit contains added sugars, such as sweetened applesauce or mandarin oranges in light syrup, can it still be served and count as a sweet item?
Yes.
If "lite" syrup or "no added sugar" jellies are used, do they count as a sweet breakfast item?
Yes, any syrup or jelly served will count as a sweet item. If "lite" and "no added sugar" products are served, please assure they do not contain artificial sweeteners, as artificial sweeteners are not allowed with the Eat Smart Guidelines.
If syrup or jelly is served, is it required that they are "lite" or "no added sugar" products?
In the original Eat Smart Guidelines (1/2010), it was required. However, the guidelines have been revised (10/2011), and this is no longer a requirement. Now, any syrup or jelly can be served, which will count as a sweet item.
Do French toast sticks count as a sweet breakfast item?
The French toast sticks themselves will not count as a sweet item. However, if syrup is served with the French toast sticks, the syrup will count as a sweet item.
If a center switches from pancakes with syrup to pancakes with thawed frozen fruit, is it no longer considered a sweet breakfast item? There is no sugar added, just the fruit.
Pancakes with unsweetened fruit is not considered a sweet item.
If a regular muffin were switched to a whole grain muffin, would it still be considered a sweet item?
Technically, the whole grain muffin is still a sweet item. However, exceptions may be made with items that are overall healthy with a moderate amount of sugar, and will be evaluated on a case by case basis. If the recipe is modified to limit the amount of sugar per serving, please submit the recipe with the application packet for evaluation.
Jell-o with fruit would still be considered a sweet item, right?
If served at breakfast or snack, it would count towards a sweet item. If served at lunch, it would be considered an extra item and we would not look to it as a sweet item, since sweets are not addressed at the lunch meal. However, if it were served frequently, it could become an issue that would need to be addressed. Please keep in mind that jell-o is not a creditable food under CACFP guidelines. In addition, make certain that the jell-o served is the regular version, and not a sugar-free version, as the sugar-free will contain artificial sweeteners.
Can Jell-o be served at lunch?
There are not any guidelines that address sweet items served at lunch. Jell-o is not a creditable food under the Child and Adult Care Food Program, so if served, it will be an “extra.” If it appears that Jell-o, or any other sweet item, is served in excess, it could become an issue that would need to be addressed with the individual center. Please keep in mind, however, that if Jell-o is served, it must be in its regular form. Sugar-free Jell-o has artificial sweeteners in it, which is not allowed with the Eat Smart Guidelines.
Are graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or animal crackers considered a "sweet snack"?
Vanilla wafers are considered a cookie, so they are a sweet snack. However, graham crackers and animal crackers are considered crackers and are not counted as sweet items. 
Are honey teddy grahams considered a sweet item?
They are not considered a sweet item.
In regards to the sweet item/croissant/grain-based snack chip guideline at snack, does the guideline address each of these items separately, or is it addressed as a whole?
Each of these items count toward one guideline. For example: In Week 1, a granola bar is served on Monday at snack, and tortilla chips are served on Thursday at snack. Week 1 would not meet the guideline, as there are two sweet snacks (granola bar) and/or grain-based snack chip (tortilla chips) served in one week.
What are some examples of grain-based chips? Would this include wheat thins and Cheez-its?
Wheat thins and Cheez-its are considered crackers, not chips, so they are okay to serve any time. Grain based chips are chips that are comprised of grains, such as corn, wheat, rice, etc. Some examples include corn chips, tortilla chips, and Sunchips. The How-To Manual mentions cheese puffs, but we learned recently that USDA does not allow cheese puffs at all on CACFP, so this is not a creditable food item. Non-grain-based snack chips, such as potato chips, are not creditable in CACFP as well.
If a grain-based snack chip is a whole grain, will it still count as a sweet item/grain-based snack chip?
Yes, it will be counted in both sections of the guidelines. While it may count against you for the number of sweet items/grain-based snack chips served in one week, it will also count as a whole grain item.

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Whole Grains

If the food package has the whole grain stamp on it, does it automatically count as a whole grain food?
No. Just because the food package includes the whole grain stamp, it is not necessarily a whole grain food. The stamp may only be indicating that the food is a good source of whole grains. To be considered a whole grain food, the food has to be primarily whole grain, meaning that the whole grain is the primary ingredient by weight (at least 51% whole grain). To verify this, look at the ingredient list. If the food item is primarily whole grain, a whole grain item will be listed as the first ingredient. If the first ingredient is not whole grain, such as enriched flour, but the second ingredient is a whole grain, such as whole wheat flour, the food item is NOT a whole grain food. Always verify with the ingredient list if a food is or is not a whole grain item.
Would oatmeal (or other low sugar, whole grain cereal) be listed as both a cereal (guideline B1) and as a whole grain (guideline B3)?
Yes.
If a regular muffin were switched to a whole grain muffin, would it still be considered a sweet item?
Technically, the whole grain muffin is still a sweet item. However, exceptions may be made with items that are overall healthy with a moderate amount of sugar, and will be evaluated on a case by case basis. If the recipe is modified to limit the amount of sugar per serving, please submit the recipe with the application packet for evaluation.
How many oats or other whole grain would the cook need to add to a baking mix for it to be considered a whole grain item?
At least half of the grains are to be whole to meet the whole grain requirement. So, if 2 cups of grain were needed for a recipe, and 1 cup was whole wheat flour (or oats or other whole grains) and 1 cup was all purpose flour, the recipe would meet the criteria. Of course, the amount of whole grains can exceed this limit, such as 1 ½ cups whole grain and ½ cup all purpose flour.
If a grain-based snack chip is a whole grain, will it still count as a sweet item/grain-based snack chip?
Yes, it will be counted in both sections of the guidelines. While it may count against you for the number of sweet items/grain-based snack chips served in one week, it will also count as a whole grain item.

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Fruits/Vegetables

Is it okay for canned fruit to be packed in light syrup?
No. All canned fruit should be packed in either 100% natural fruit juice or in water. There should not be any forms of added sugars in the list of ingredients.
Can mandarin oranges be packed in syrup and then rinse them before serving?
No. All canned fruit should be packed in either 100% natural fruit juice or in water. There should not be any forms of added sugars in the list of ingredients. Canned mandarin oranges are available packed in 100% juice. If the canned variety cannot be found, consider serving fresh Clementine's or Cuties instead.
If a canned fruit contains added sugars, such as sweetened applesauce or mandarin oranges in light syrup, can it still be served and count as a sweet item?
Yes.
If the menu has an orange smoothie that contains both fruit juice and whole fruit, will it count as having a fresh, frozen, or dried fruit? And will it also count as serving juice at a meal?
This will be looked at on a case-by-case basis. If it is just a small amount of juice added, it will not count as a juice serving. But if there were, for example, 4 oz of juice in each individual smoothie, then it would count as a juice serving. The center would need to submit a recipe for these items. In regards to the fruit in the smoothie, such as a banana, it would count towards the fresh, frozen, or dried fruit guideline.
Can fresh (raw) fruits and vegetables be lightly steamed and still count towards this guideline, as in a stir-fry?
Yes. While it is ideal that fresh fruits and vegetables be kept in their raw form, so the children may experience the taste and texture of raw fruits and vegetables, it is okay to lightly steam the vegetables in dishes, such as a stir-fry.

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Juice

If the menu has an orange smoothie that contains both fruit juice and whole fruit, will it count as having a fresh, frozen, or dried fruit? And will it also count as serving juice at a meal?
This will be looked at on a case-by-case basis. If it is just a small amount of juice added, it will not count as a juice serving. But if there were, for example, 4 oz of juice in each individual smoothie, then it would count as a juice serving. The center would need to submit a recipe for these items. In regards to the fruit in the smoothie, such as a banana, it would count towards the fresh, frozen, or dried fruit guideline.

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Dark Green/Orange Fruits and Vegetables

Do green beans and peas count toward this guideline?
No. Dark green vegetables include dark leafy greens, such as broccoli and spinach. Green beans and peas are not considered dark green vegetables. See page 29 of the “Missouri Eat Smart Child Care Guidelines: A How-to-Workbook” for a list of dark green and orange fruits and vegetables.

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Meat/Meat Alternate

How much meat/meat alternate needs to be served at breakfast to meet the guideline?
It is recommended that the meat/meat alternate served at breakfast meet the CACFP requirements in regards to meat/meat alternates served at snack. For 1-2 year olds and 3-5 year olds, this would equate to a ½ oz of meat equivalent. For 6-12 year olds, this would equate to a 1 oz of meat equivalent.
Is turkey bacon and turkey sausage okay to serve at breakfast?
Turkey bacon is not credible under the CACFP guidelines. Turkey sausage is okay to serve.
In regards to the lunch guideline, what other food items are considered a highly processed meat, poultry and fish?
To put it simply, any meat, poultry and fish item and/or combination entrée that requires a Child Nutrition (CN) label, indicating the amount of each food component per serving. In addition to the Guideline's examples, further examples include, but are not limited to: Ready-prepared pizza, meatballs, meatloaf, Salisbury steak, beef ravioli, burritos, and breaded cheese sticks. However, if any of these items were prepared from scratch on-site, they would not be considered a highly processed item. In this case, please submit a recipe with the application packet.
Does cream cheese count as a meat/meat alternate?
No. Cream cheese contains limited protein and more fat than other creditable cheeses. Cream cheese is not a creditable food in CACFP.

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Artificial Sweeteners

What are some artificial sweeteners to look for in the ingredient list?
Artificial sweeteners include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal), acesulfame-K (Sunett or Sweet One), saccharin (Sugar Twin or Sweet N Low), sucralose (Splenda), and neotame. If any of these items appear in the list of ingredients, the product contains artificial sweeteners.
What are some common products that contain artificial sweeteners?
With the review of Eat Smart applications, the most common products that contain artificial sweeteners are "lite" or "no added sugar" syrups, jellies and yogurt, along with other "sugar-free" items, such as canned fruits and jell-o. Always check the ingredient list to assure artificial sweeteners are not included.

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Cycle Menus

The center does not use cycle menus; the cook plans out the meals, etc. for the month, but it varies month to month depending on what produce she can get, etc. She does provide a lot of variety. Is this okay, even though it is not exactly a cycle menu?
Yes. As long as the menu does not repeat often and resemble a weekly or 2-week menu cycle, it is okay that the menu changes frequently. However, a cycle menu can be used as a base to help the center with meal preparation and then just switch items around as needed. So a cycle menu would be beneficial.
If a substitution was made on the cycle menu, do the menu worksheets list the food on the cycle menu or the substitution?
Submit menus for what was actually served, which will be reflected on the menu worksheet. If a substitution was made, and the change made a difference in terms of meeting a guideline, it should be noted on the menu/menu worksheet. (Ex: Lettuce was served instead of spinach, so the dark green/orange fruit/vegetable guideline was not met. The menu worksheet will reflect the lettuce that was served, but a note should be made that indicates spinach would normally be served.)

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Family Style Meals

Do the kids have to take at least something of every meal component for CACFP family style meal service?
With family style meals, the amount of foods prepared need to meet the CACFP meal pattern requirement with regard to portion sizes, so that each child could have the required portion of each food. However, when the child serves him/herself, it is the child's decision how much of the food or IF he/she even chooses to take any. Staff needs to encourage the children to take the full regulatory amount, but they cannot force the children to take the food, try the food, or eat the food. See the policy on Family Style Meals.
What does staff need to do at meal times in regards to putting food on their plates when serving foods family style?
Staff should model healthy eating habits to the children. Staff should take at least a small portion of the foods served. Staff members do not have to eat everything they put on their plates. They should, however, take a bite of food and encourage the children to do the same.
Are staff members allowed to drink water in between meals, while around the children?
Yes! Water should be made available to children at all times during the day. The staff is welcome, and encouraged, to drink water around the children, to encourage the children to drink water as well.

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Outside Food Policy

Does this include foods purchased at the store?
Yes, it does include prepackaged, store purchased items. Per licensing regulations, store bought foods are allowed. However, to meet the Eat Smart Guidelines, the center must provide all served food, even for birthdays, holidays and celebrations.
If a center has kids with dietary restrictions, and the parents provide the meals, can the center still be approved as an Eat Smart Center?
Yes. Kids with special diets are an exception to the guideline, as long as the center has medical documentation for the special diet on file.
The application says to include handbook/policy changes... is the whole handbook needed or just pages that apply to nutrition?
Do whatever is easiest for you. If it is easier to include the whole handbook, and indicate which pages the information is found, that is okay. But if you can take out individual pages that pertain to nutrition, that is okay too.

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Fundraisers

Can the center serve hotdogs at a fundraiser event they have?
Yes, this is fine.
What are some ideas for fundraisers that will meet the guideline?
For examples, please see the “Nonfood Fundraising Ideas” document.

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