It’s no secret that ounce equivalents are coming to CACFP as of October 1, 2021 (we’ll get to the waiver in a minute). This unique unit of measurement is old news for other child nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP), but the CACFP community is largely in the dark.

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) defines an ounce equivalent as “…the amount of food product that is considered equal to one ounce from the grain or protein food groups.”

Let’s break this down a little bit.

Different grain foods have different levels of water content, which affects the amount of grain content of that food. For example, cooked pasta and rice has higher water content than crackers of bread. Ounce equivalents aims to ensure that the appropriate amounts of grains are served.

As such, the US Dietary Guidelines, USDA MyPlate Food Guidance System, and the NAM report all use ounce equivalents when determining grain serving sizes, as do the NSLP and SBP.

However, we understand that the CACFP community does not have the resources schools and government entities have. The biggest concerns we’ve heard from you are:

  • How do you calculate an ounce equivalent?
  • What about inconsistency between brands?
  • How do you know you served enough grains under the new requirements?

KidKare is here for you, and we have a plan. We will have more details for you as the time draws closer, but here’s a sneak peek of what our center sponsors and centers can expect:

  • Ounce Equivalent Calculations: Store ounce equivalent calculations for common bread/grains at the food list level.
  • Brand Differences: Allow sites to override the food list calculation while recording menus to account for brand differences.
  • Quantities: Estimated quantities required, and actual quantities required will reflect the new ounce equivalent requirements.

Now then, what about that waiver?

Like you, we were excited to see the USDA issue the Nationwide Waiver to Allow Specific Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child and Adult Care Food Program for School Year 2021 – 2022 that included an allowance for delayed ounce equivalent implementation. However, further clarification from the USDA states that this waiver is to be applied on a case-by-case basis within states that opt-in to use it.

Rest assured that KidKare will provide you with the flexibility needed to implement ounce equivalents requirements according to your state’s schedule. So, no matter when your state and you implement ounce equivalents, we’ll be ready for you.

You can also check out Team Nutrition’s extensive ounce equivalents training resources here.

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