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Meal Pattern Minute: Plant-Based Meat Alternates

August 18, 2023

You have been wanting to serve plant-based products in the Child and Adult Care Food Program but you weren’t sure how they credit in the meal pattern. Do you need documentation, such as the Child Nutrition label or Product Formulation Statement? Also, you might be wondering if all plant-based products developed by manufacturers can credit and be reimbursable when serving CACFP meals. 

 Your answer can be found on this Meal Pattern Minute with Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, where she provides you with the details on plant-based products and what you need to know. 

 Many family day care homes, child care centers and adult day care centers are moving towards incorporating more plant-based foods and plant-forward menu, where plants like legumes, cruciferous vegetables, a variety of fruits and grains are taking center stage. In order for you to determine if a plant-based food is creditable in the CACFP, there are couple of questions you need to ask: 

  1. Can plant-based foods be found in the Food Buying Guide? 
  1. The FBG only contains yield information for whole foods, not derivative ingredients. So if you are looking to credit a veggie burger or a veggie nugget, you will need a PFS or CN label. 
  1. Do you have a CN label or PFS for your plant-based product? 
  1. Any manufactured plant-based product that contains Alternate Protein Product (APP) or has additional ingredients added to the plant-based foods such as spices and bread crumbs , does require a CN label or PFS in order for it to possible credit towards the CACFP meal pattern. You will need to know how much to serve and credit towards the meal pattern.  


If serving APP, refer to the document Questions and Answers on Alternate Protein Products (APP). This resource will go in depth on what you need to know to serve foods containing APP.


If you are using a recipe with plant-based ingredients, you will need to indicate how many portions it makes, what food component(s) the recipes is contributing to and how much to credit of each food component towards the meal pattern.  


Need some plant-forward ideas? We've recently added plenty to our Recipes page.


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