SMART Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Based on the growing need for support with the new meal pattern requirements - below you will find some of the questions that have been coming up. We hope that by sharing this information, you will be able to identify with these questions and put the answers to use in your food service program.

Q&A – Example 1: Flavored Waters

Can these be sold a la carte at a school district? Propel, Sobe Lifewater – Sugar Free

Currently, the only restrictions on competitive foods pertain to Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV), which may not be served in the food service area during reimbursable meal service. Unless the beverages are carbonated, they do not count as FMNVs.

Q&A – Example 2: Veggie Bar

We are planning on having a fruit and vegetable bar but all of the fruits and vegetables offered on this bar will be extra because we will also be offering fruits and vegetables that will meet all the component requirements. Does this sound ok as long as we can determine an approximate average amount that each student is taking so it can be factored into the nutrient analysis?

We are not doing any analyses this year, so I am not sure what the USDA will be looking for. The 6 Cents Tool (Simplified Nutrient Analysis) does not seem to care how much the student takes. They only are interested in what is offered. If this is the case for the analyses that we will do, then you would not need to average it. The production record should reflect accurately how many fruits they served, etc.

Q & A – Example 3: USDA Spreadsheet

When using the USDA spreadsheet tool, I know there is a place to put info for a vegetable bar that is offered daily but no place to put fruit bar items. I was thinking we could use that tool for the vegetables that are in the line but then for the fruits (since they don't have to be divided out into subgroups) we could just average out approximately how much fruit each child takes from the bar and add it to the cup fruit offered in the line.

The tool just asks for the amount of the serving. The Tool doesn't ask for the type of fruit. Only on the Simplified Nutrient Analysis Tool in the far left column asks how the fruit was prepared, how much sugar and how much fat.

Q & A – Example 4: Sodium

We are intending on using the USDA Simplified Nutrient Assessment Tool for the 6cent and really for all of our menus. I noticed it doesn't calculate sodium. Do we need to be calculating sodium in some capacity?

Sodium is not part of being certified for the 6 Cents. Sodium requirement comes into play in two years. We in Idaho have asked the sponsors to consider sodium, but it is not a requirement at this time.

Q & A – Example 5: OVS

Can a school choose to do Offer versus Serve for lunch and choose not to do it breakfast?

OVS is optional for SBP.

Q & A – Example 6: Left Overs

If we have leftovers can we use them up the next day so long as we have followed proper food safety procedures? If so how do we account for it? Can it just be an extra?

Yes, you can use them the next day as part of the reimbursable meal. Remember, that you will need to consider the meat/meat alternate and the grain oz.. equivalent that they provide because it will need to be calculated into your minimums and maximums for the week. You can also serve them as leftovers during the day that they are menued or refreeze them and serve them when the menus cycle repeats.

Q & A – Example 7: Specifying Fruits

On our menus do we have to specify exactly what fruits we are serving on a daily basis? I know they have to be recorded on the production records but do they have to be listed on the menu?


Q & A – Example 8: Using up previously purchased foods

Last year we were following NSMP and not food based. Therefore, we have several products from last year that do not meet the grains, M/MA, and/or do not have a CN label. Can we still use them on the menus this year? What do we do?

USDA just put out guidance for that; it is 39-2012 on our website under State Guidance. It states that you can use the product up, as an a la carte item, catering item, served to adults, possibly sell it to another institution, or you can use it up ASAP, before October. If it is served after September 30th then your menus may not be in compliance for 6 Cents.

Q & A – Example 9: Tot and Fries

This year we are going to place tater tots and baked fries on our menus. Since this is an - other vegetable - do we offer 1 cup and they have to take cup? We would like to offer only cup, but we want to be in compliance. Can these items be counted as their vegetable serving for the day?

Tater tots and Baked Fries are NOT an "Other" vegetable; they are "Starchy." All vegetables require that you offer 1 Cup (At high School) and the student needs only take cup for their reimbursable meal.

Q & A – Example 10: Preschool

We serve Head start children under the NSLP umbrella. What are their meal requirements for this year? What guidance do we have for these 3 and 4 year olds?

They follow the same guidance that they used last year under the Traditional Food Based Menu Plan. Pre School-Traditional Food Based Menu Planning Approach

  • Milk 6 oz.
  • M/MA 1.5 oz.
  • Veg/Fruit = cup
  • Grain= 1 oz./day and 8 oz. per week.

If you serve the Pre-School at the same time that you serve K-5 please note that if you have a meal with one meat/meat alternate for the K-5 someday, then the Pre-School will need a larger , by oz equivalent of meat/meat alternate that day.

Q & A – Example 11: Serving times for 7-9

We have always served 7-9 grades, each grade had their own serving time. As of today, the principal informed me that they will all be eating at one time. Not sure how to offer 9th graders more calories, grain.

The best solution is to ensure that the principals understand the situation that the food service is faced with and set up a 3-5 minute pause between feeding 7-8 and 9. That way you could serve the 9th grade the appropriate quantities. Does this principal understand that if one school does not comply with the new regulations, that the whole district could lose the 6 cents reimbursement? Possibly, talk with the principal regarding this.

Also, it may be difficult to supply the correct calories to 9-12 if you do not offer the maximum number of grains and meat/ma.

This would mean that using the maximum number of grains and meat/meat alternates for 6-8 and using the lowest or minimum number of grains and meat/meat alternates for 9-12 would result in the menu not being in compliance due to low calories.

Q & A – Example 12: Calculating Grains

Do we need to weigh the bread before baking or after? We've weighed before and after and the results were the same. After baking, you lose .25 of an ounce.

The most accurate way to determine the number of grains in a recipe is to:

  • Calculate how many pounds or ounces of grain are in the recipe.
  • Next, convert that number to grams. (Remember that there are 28.34 grams in one ounce.)
  • Divide the number of grams by 16 (this is the new calculation number given to us in SP 30-2012).
  • The number showing tells you how many grain oz. equivalents are possible in the recipe.
  • (This number is 1 oz. equivalents) If you want the recipe to produce a 2 oz. equivalent then you would divide by 32.
  • So, the recipe makes, let's say 550 - 2 oz. grain equivalents. It is difficult to say what the "wet" measure will be because it will vary depending upon the many variables, (weather, humidity, quality of ingredients, etc.)
  • If you measure out each roll at 2.5 oz. and then you only get 450 total rolls, then you would determine that 2.5 oz. is too big, your goal is to get close to 550 rolls made.
  • So, the next time you tell them to weigh each roll out at 2.3 oz. and you end up with 520 total rolls.
  • You then have them weigh each roll at, let's say, 2.2 oz. and they end up with 560.
  • That is pretty close; you may determine that 2.2 oz. will be what you put on your recipe for the directions.