About Nevada School Meals

What's in a School Meal?

Students must choose three different food items from the five food groups below in order for schools to receive federal reimbursements for school lunches. At least one choice must be a fruit or vegetable. 

Fruits: All types of fruits are included in Nevada’s school meal pattern. School meals can include fresh fruit, 100% fruit juice, frozen fruit, dried fruit without added sugar and canned fruit that is packed in light syrup or 100% juice. 

Vegetables: School meals are now required to include vegetables throughout the week. This includes dark-green vegetables such as broccoli and romaine lettuce, red/orange vegetables such as carrots, starchy vegetables such as potatoes and beans and legumes such as black and pinto beans. 

Milk: School meals must include non-fat plain or flavored milk—or 1% plain milk—and at least two varieties of milk must be offered. (Watch video: The Benefits of Milk.

Grains: All grains offered in school meals must now be whole-grain rich, increasing the amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals in school meals. There are many great whole grain offerings on school trays such as whole grain bread, whole grain pasta and whole grain tortillas. 

Meat / Meat Alternates: A variety of meats or meat alternates can be offered in school meals, including beef, pork and chicken—or vegetarian offerings such as yogurt, peanut butter, cheese and beans.

About the School Meal Pattern

The new school meal pattern raises nutrition standards for the first time in more than 15 years. It aims to improve the health of nearly 32 million children who participate in school meal programs every school day. 

The new federal standards: 

  • Ensure students are offered fruits and a variety of vegetables every day of the week 
  • Increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods Offer fat-free or low-fat milk varieties 
  • Limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size, and 
  • Increase the focus on reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium. 

USDA built the new meal pattern around recommendations from experts convened by the Institute of Medicine. The standards aim to foster the kind of healthy changes at school that many parents are already trying to encourage at home. 

Nevada’s School Meal Pattern Program is funded by the federal USDA and is operated by the Nevada Department of Agriculture with support from school districts in all of Nevada’s counties. To implement the Nevada School Meal Pattern, NDA has taken a hands on approach to train school nutrition staff. Since the school year 2012/2013, our staff has conducted in person trainings, technical assistance visits and webinars. These training techniques assist the school staff in developing a more nutritious meal for Nevada’s school children.