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Meal Pattern Minute: Whole Grain-Rich and CN Labels

June 1, 2023

The Child Nutrition (CN) label, when voluntarily provided by the manufacturer, are used for main dish products which contribute to the meat/meat alternate component of the meal pattern requirement (i.e. beef patties, cheese or meat pizzas, egg rolls, breaded fish portions). Some main dish products contain grains like the breaded fish portion. If there are sufficient grain ounce equivalents indicated on the CN label to meet the meal pattern, the grain component can be counted. But how do you know if the grain in the product is whole grain-rich? Perhaps this is the whole grain-rich grain component you are serving for the day. 


Well, it only takes a minute to find out! Listen in as Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, explains how to identify whole grain-rich products on a CN label. 


For more further details, visit the National CACFP Sponsors Association blog post, “Child Nutrition (CN) Labels.”


If the CN labeled main dish has a breading or grain, the CN label will tell you information about how the product counts as a grain and whether it is whole grain-rich or not.

  •  Products that meet the whole grain-rich criteria will have the following language on the CN label:  "oz. equivalent grains"
  • Products that have mostly enriched grain ingredients (e.g., enriched wheat flour) and are NOT whole grain-rich will have the following language on the CN label:  "oz. equivalent grains (enriched)"

For additional information on CN Labels look at USDA CN Labeling program and the NCA blog post, “All About Child Nutrition Labels.” Here, we provide further details on resources to help you stay up to date with CN labels including webinars, CN label verification report, CN label manufacturers report, and a free printable resource on how to read a CN label. 


Making recipes from scratch alleviates the need to use a CN label. Try one of these delicious recipes below. 

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