Food Service » USDA New School Meal Regulations

USDA New School Meal Regulations

Dear Hempfield Area School District Administrators, Principals and Teachers,

The USDA is required to update school meal regulations to bring them in line with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans starting in the 2013-14 school year. The Nutrition Group, School Dining Services is fully committed to providing nutritious, quality school meals that meet the USDA’s school meal regulations and comply with the new guidelines.

Student meals contain five food groups to select foods from fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grains and milk. Each meal must contain at least 3 of the 5 food groups with one being the fruit and/or vegetable selection.

Listed below is an overview of what your students can expect to see in their school dining center at Hempfield Area School District.


Fruits and Vegetables

  • All students will be offered a large variety of fresh fruits and colorful, nutrient-dense vegetables, including dark greens, oranges, starchy vegetables and legumes (beans).
  • Students will now be required to select at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable for the complete meal price. If no fruit or vegetable is selected, the student will pay the individual item prices (ala carte) for foods instead of the complete meal price.


Allowable Grains and Proteins

  • For breads and meats, students will see smaller portion sizes on some items. We are now limited by the USDA in the amount of grains and proteins we offer at each meal.
  • These changes are intended to make sure students are receiving age-appropriate, nutritionally adequate meals that provide the right amount of energy from healthful food sources.
  • Half of the grains offered at lunch each week must be whole grain-rich.


Menus by Age Groups

  • The regulations established new grade groups for menu planning, aimed at ensuring students receive age-appropriate portions and nutrients. The groups include:
    • Grades K-5 (ages 5-10 years)
    • Grades 6-8 (ages 11-13 years)
    • Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18 years)
    • In some districts where these grade levels overlap, the portion sizes may differ for the same menu at the same school.
  • New calorie requirements were also developed to align with the newly established grade groups. Menus must provide adequate, but not excessive, calories for the various age groups.



The Nutrition Group continues to be dedicated to providing quality nutritious meals that the students enjoy. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at 724-850-2228 or via email at [email protected].