Office of Food and Nutrition Services
Menu Requirements

Nutrition standards are the foundation of federal school nutrition programs and reflect the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The standards were established for menu planning by studying the nutritional needs of groups of children at different ages.  Nutrition standards consist of the required food components, levels of calories, and key nutrients to meet the nutrition goals for specific age or grade groups of children for breakfast and lunch over the course of one week.

The nutrition standards include:

  • Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
  • Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods
  • Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties
  • Limiting calories based on the age of the children being served to ensure proper portion size
  • Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium.

Less than 10% of calories should be from saturated fat over a school week.  Nutrition label or manufacturer specifications must indicate zero grams of trans fat per serving.

Specific calorie levels are required for school meals depending on the age/grade group.  These calorie levels are based on weekly averages.


Grade Levels

Calorie Ranges







Lunch – Calorie Ranges
Menus are planned using a food-based component pattern.  Food components are one of the five food groups which comprise reimbursable meals.

For breakfast there are three required food components to be offered to all students:

  • Two servings of grain or one serving of grain and one serving of meat/meat alternative.
  • One serving of fruit or one serving of vegetables
  • One serving of milk – must be low-fat (unflavored) or fat free (unflavored or flavored).

For lunch there are five required food components to be offered to all students.

  • Meat/meat alternative serving
  • Fruit serving
  • Vegetable serving
  • Grain(s) serving – whole grain rich products
  • Fluid milk serving – must be low fat (unflavored) or fat free (unflavored).

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 established a requirement for making water available to children during the lunch meal period.

Students with Special Dietary Needs
Information from manufacturers, recipes prepared in school cafeterias, snack items, and allergy information may be directed to the Director, Office of Food and Nutrition Services, at 410-887-7855.

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