Do field trip lunches need to meet the meal pattern requirements per grade group?
Yes, all lunches that are claimed for reimbursement must meet the daily meal pattern requirements and dietary specifications (calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium) for the grade group being served. Students must have access to all five required food components. The bag lunch must include fruit, vegetable, grain, meat/meat alternate and milk in the appropriate planned portion size for the age/grade group served.
Can Offer versus Serve be implemented with field trip lunches?
If students self-select field trip lunches in the cafeteria line just prior to leaving for a field trip, offer versus serve may be implemented. If the lunches are distributed at the field trip site, students must have all five required food items available. Offer versus serve may be implemented at the site, but measures must be taken to ensure that all students are able to select from all five required food components and that any leftover food items are taken care of in an appropriate manner.
Do the lunches need to include milk? What about food safety issues?
Yes, lunches served on field trips must include all required food components, including milk. Care must be taken to ensure that milk storage time and temperatures are considered. Shelf stable milk may be used if the product meets state and local standards for milk. A shelf stable fluid milk substitute may be used if the product is nutritionally equivalent to milk and if notice has been given to the state agency. The form to notify the state agency of the intent to serve a fluid milk substitute is available on the Minnesota Department of Education website. Access Notification of Use of Fluid Milk Substitute. Products such as rice milk, almond milk and soy milk do not credit towards School Nutrition Programs unless they are nutritionally equivalent to milk. Juice is not an appropriate substitution.
What about the weekly requirements for vegetable subgroups, grains and meat/meat alternate? Do field trip lunches need to meet the weekly requirements?
No. It is assumed that field trip bag lunches are served to students on an occasional basis and are served to different students each day. Therefore, the menu planner is not required to adjust the weekly menu to take into account occasional field trips nor are they required to incorporate the same vegetable subgroups as the reimbursable lunches served at the school site. Bag lunches available at the school site on a regular basis as an alternate option to the main entrée(s) must meet all daily and weekly meal pattern requirements.
How must field trip lunches be counted and claimed?
Any meals claimed for reimbursement in the School Nutrition Programs must be counted at the point of service, the place at which students receive the meal. This means that field trip lunches must be counted at the point the students receive the bag lunch. Appropriate staff attending the field trip will need training to recognize and proper procedures to record the field trip lunches by student name. Pre-counts may be necessary for purposes of preparing the appropriate number of field trip bag lunches, but may not be used as the final count submitted for reimbursement. Similarly, a category back-out system may not be used. This system assumes that if no bagged lunches are returned, all appropriate students must have received a lunch. These counting systems allow for error and are not appropriate.