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Meal Pattern Minute: Granola Bars

October 27, 2023

Granola bars are pre-packaged or homemade portable bars consisting of grains like oats or breakfast cereals, nuts, seeds, honey or other sweeteners, and sometimes dried fruit. Sounds healthy and possibly creditable in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, right? Or are they?  


In under a minute, Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, reveals the answer on whether granola bars are creditable in this Meal Pattern Minute.  


After listening to the Meal Pattern Minute, you might be wondering where to find this information. USDA has developed multiple resources to help you identify if a grain component is creditable in the CACFP. See below for some of these materials that you can view and download. 


Grain-Based Desserts in the CACFP 

  • As of October 1, 2017, grain-based desserts no longer count toward the grain component of meals and snacks offered through the CACFP. This small change helps reduce the amount of added sugars kids eat in child care. This handout provides you a list of common grain-based desserts that are no longer creditable but also clarifies some grains that are not considered grain-based desserts. Watch these webinars to help you fully grasp grain-based desserts. 

Webinar: Understanding Grain-Based Desserts

  • Wondering why savory biscotti, rice pudding, and scones are creditable in the CACFP, but the same items made with fruits are considered to be sweet and are not allowed for reimbursement under the meal pattern? Grain-based desserts are a category of food items that are considered sweet and high in sugar. By eliminating grain-based desserts in the CACFP, USDA hopes to reduce the amount of added sugars kids eat in child care. While brownies clearly fall in the grain-based desserts category, other food items can be tricky. Learn how to determine what is creditable and what is not based on the USDA guidance. 

Webinar: Grain-Based Desserts in the CACFP 

  • This webinar will focus on how Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) operators can identify grain-based desserts and use this knowledge to plan menus that meet program requirements. 

 Crediting Handbook for CACFP (Grains Section Only) 

  • Need to check for other foods that you are still not sure if they are creditable? Review this resource. Do a quick search by clicking Ctrl + F (Command + F on Mac) and search for the item you are looking for. The creditable grains table will inform you if it is creditable, maybe creditable, or not creditable with commentary to explain the whys. 

 Exhibit A Grains Tool  

  • You can download a free account and use the USDA Food Buying Guide: The Exhibit A Grains Tool which allows you to search for your grain product (as listed on Exhibit A) and enter in the serving size from the product label. The tool then helps you determine: 1) ounce equivalent (oz eq) grains or grains/bread serving(s) for the grain product, and 2) amount to serve to provide your desired grains contribution. For more guidance on how to use it, watch the free webinar “Exhibit A Grains Tool to the Rescue!
  • Here is a quick reference for the Exhibit A.


Here are recipes to help you reduce added sugar in your menu. 


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