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Food Group

Participant Group


Highly processed red meat, poultry, and fish

Children and adults

Limit highly processed meat, poultry, and fish (including highly salted products and breaded fried products) to one time per week across all eating occasions.


Children and adults

If fried or scrambled, cook in vegetable oil or soft margarine rather than in solid fat.


Children and adults

Natural cheese. Low-fat cheese is encouraged. No processed cheese, cheese food, or cheese spread because of their higher sodium content and lower content of other nutrients.


Children and adults

May not contain added fats, oils, or sodium.

Dried peas, beans, lentil

Children and adults

Dried or canned. Limit those prepared with added solid fat and high sodium content, such as pork and beans and most types of refried beans. Choose nonfat versions.

Nuts, peanut butter

Children (age 1–3 y)

Nut butters if they do not pose a choking hazard; no nuts


Children (age ≥ 3 y) and adults

Nut butters and unsalted nuts of any type; preferably with no added salt or sugars; only if measures are taken to avoid choking hazard


Children and adults

See entry under “Milk and alternatives” above.

Healthy fats and oils




Children and adults

Moderate amounts of unsaturated vegetable oils such as canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower, sunflower oil

Soft margarine

Children and adults

Moderate amounts of soft vegetable oil table spreads, labeled as containing zero grams of trans fat

NOTES: CACFP = Child and Adult Care Food Program; FDA = Food and Drug Administration; FNS = Food and Nutrition Service; g = grams; IU = International Units; mg = milligrams; mo = months; oz = ounce; USDA = U.S. Department of Agriculture; y = years.

aNutrition labels on all foods must state that the content of trans fat is zero. Foods that present a choking hazard (e.g., whole grapes, raisins, hot dogs, raw carrots) are not to be offered to young children unless the form of the food has been changed to make it safe for them to eat. See Altkorn et al. (2008) for further information about foods that pose choking hazards.

bThe meal patterns for children and adults stipulate that at least half the grains served must meet the whole grain-rich food specifications, and an even higher proportion of whole grain-rich grain products is encouraged. All refined grain foods must be enriched.

c“At-risk afterschool programs” refers to programs offered by at-risk afterschool care centers: public or private nonprofit organizations that are participating in CACFP as an institution or as a sponsored facility and that provide nonresidential child care to children after school through an approved afterschool care program located in an eligible area.

dWeights specified for meat, poultry, and fish in meal patterns refer to edible portion as served.

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