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Meal Pattern Minute: Grain-Based Desserts

December 30, 2023

In the Child and Adult Care Food Program, grain-based desserts are not creditable at any meal type. This is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was required to update the CACFP meal patterns to align them with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines). But how are grain-based desserts defined and how do you determine if a food is considered a grain-based dessert? 

 Tune in to this meal pattern minute where Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, discusses this question. 

Looking for more guidance on identifying grain-based desserts? Review the resources below to help you gain further knowledge about this topic.  

  • Policy Memo: Grain-Based Desserts in the Child and Adult Care Food Program
    • This memorandum provides flexibility in the service of grain-based desserts in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
    • The Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting the consumption of added sugars and solid fats as part of a healthy eating pattern, and identify grain-based desserts as sources of added sugars and saturated fats. As a result, under the updated CACFP meal patterns, grain-based desserts cannot count towards the grain requirement at any meal or snack starting Oct. 1, 2017. This requirement was designed to help reduce the amount of added sugar and saturated fats that children and adults consume, which, as a percent of calories, is particularly high in children.
  •  Resource Sheet: Grain-Based Desserts in the Child and Adult Care Food Program
    • This two-page handout provides a list of foods that are and are not considered grain-based desserts. It also gives you some tips and easy food swap ideas to help you modify your menu.  
  •  Crediting Handbook for CACFP 
    • For more guidance on what grains would be considered a grain-based dessert use this resource. This handbook provides a quick answer to the most common foods that may be served to children and adults. You’ll be able to determine if that food item is creditable or not. 
  •  Exhibit A: Grain Requirements for Child Nutrition Programs 
    • Reviewing this chart, you will find Group B where sweet crackers are indicated. May count toward the grains component in the CACFP. 

 Here are some webinars that are accessible through the Learning Center. 

  • 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.
  • 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.

 Try one of these recipes to replace those grain-based desserts. 


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