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What Makes a Meal?

What Makes a Meal?

USDA Meal Pattern Charts

The federal Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 requires students paying the set meal price or receive free/reduced lunch to take menu components that meet the meal pattern.  The meal pattern consists of FIVE components:  meat/meat alternate, grain, fruit, vegetable and milk.  Please click the link above for the USDA Meal Pattern Charts.

If the minimum number of components for each meal are not chosen by the student, a la carte charges will be charged.


  • Must choose at least three of the four offered items to make a meal.
  • Must choose one fruit or a juice as one of the items to receive the meal price.


  • Must choose at least three of the five offered components to make a meal.
  • Must choose at least a half cup of fruit or vegetable to receive the meal price.

A la Carte

  • Extra entrees, extra sides, chips, ice cream, cookies, etc., are all charged a la carte prices and are not included in the meal.
  • For example, if a students gets a meal of chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, and milk, but they want an extra portion of chicken nuggets, that extra portion is not considered a part of the meal and will be charged an additional charge (See meal prices).
  • If a parent wishes to restrict a la carte purchases, they may do so by calling 409-883-2232 and ask to speak with the Child Nutrition department.