Questions and Answers - Vegetables
What type of “whole” vegetable or fruit would be appropriate for infants aged 6 through 11 months?

  • It is essential for child care providers and parents or guardians to communicate regularly about the readiness of an infant to accept solid foods. Clear communication will help providers choose the specific foods to introduce and facilitate consistency between the home and child care setting during this period of rapid change. Once an infant is developmentally ready to accept solid foods, some examples of vegetables and fruit that can be served include:
  • Commercially prepared baby food such as: green beans, green peas, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, spinach, applesauce, apricots, bananas, peaches, pears, and plums.
  • Home-prepared vegetables (cooked and processed to the appropriate texture), such as: asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, green peas, kohlrabi, plantain, potatoes, summer or winter squash, and sweet potatoes.
  • Home-prepared fruits (which can be mashed after peeling if ripe and soft) such as: apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, mango, melon, nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, and plums. The term “whole” refers to all fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits and vegetables, rather than juice. For infants consuming solid foods, these whole vegetables and fruits must be cooked and processed as needed to the appropriate texture for their developmental stage. More guidance is available in Feeding Infants: A Guide for Use in the Child Nutrition Programs ( use-child-nutrition-programs).

Can two servings of broccoli be served at lunch to fulfill the vegetable component and fruit component?

  • No, two servings of broccoli to meet the vegetable component and fruit component would not be reimbursable under the updated lunch and supper child and adult meal patterns. While centers and day care homes may serve two servings of vegetables at lunch and supper, the two servings of vegetables must be different. This is designed to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines recommendation that all Americans should consume a variety of vegetables. The two servings of vegetables do not need to be from different subgroups (e.g., dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, beans and peas (legumes), or other vegetables). For example, a lunch or dinner with a serving of carrots and a serving of red peppers (both red and orange vegetables) would be allowable. Although serving vegetables from different subgroups is not a requirement CACFP 25-2016 Page 1 in CACFP, offering a variety of vegetables can help improve the overall nutritional quality of the meals served to participants.

Is a tomato a fruit or vegetable? What about avocado?

  • Both tomatoes and avocados are considered vegetables. CACFP centers and day care homes can refer to the Food Buying Guide for School Meal Programs (, which provides a list of creditable vegetables and a list of creditable fruit. This guide is currently being revised to include CACFP and the Summer Food Service Program so that there will be one Food Buying Guide for all Child Nutrition Programs. While the Food Buying Guide provides a relatively comprehensive list of foods commonly served in Child Nutrition Programs, it does not include information on every possible vegetable or fruit that can be part of a reimbursable meal. CACFP centers and day care homes may also reference to determine if a food is a vegetable or a fruit. The website includes a list of vegetables, including vegetable subgroups, and a list of fruits. CACFP centers and homes should work with their sponsor or State agency, as appropriate, when they have questions about the crediting of foods.

How do raw leafy greens contribute to the vegetable component? Similarly, how does dried fruit contribute to the fruit component?

  • One cup of leafy greens (e.g., lettuce, raw spinach, etc.) counts as 1⁄2 cup of vegetables and 1⁄4 cup dried fruit counts as 1⁄2 cup of fruit under the updated CACFP meal patterns, which go into effect on October 1, 2017. This is consistent with the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

With separate vegetable and fruit components at lunch, supper, and snack in the updated CACFP meal patterns, how do food items that are mixtures of vegetables and fruit, such as a carrot-raisin salad, credit?

  • Food items that are mixtures of vegetables and fruits, such as a carrot-raisin salad, can only credit towards the vegetable component or the fruit component, not both, at lunch, supper, and snack. For a mixed food item to credit towards the vegetable component or fruit component, it must contain at least 1⁄8 cup vegetable or fruit per serving.

May food ingredients that are unrecognizable contribute to meal pattern requirements (for example, carrots pureed in a sauce for Macaroni and Cheese)?

  • Pureed vegetables or fruits may contribute to the CACFP meal pattern requirements as long as the dish also provides an adequate amount (1⁄8 cup) of recognizable, creditable fruits or vegetables. If the dish does not contain at least 1⁄8 cup of a CACFP 25-2016 Page 2 recognizable component then the blended foods do not contribute to the meal requirements. Therefore, in the carrots and mac and cheese scenario, the pureed or mashed carrots can count towards the vegetable/fruit component if there is at least 1⁄8 cup of another recognizable vegetable or fruit in the dish. FNS requires an adequate amount of recognizable fruits or vegetables because meals served in the Child Nutrition Programs are a nutrition education opportunity to help children learn how to build a healthy plate. It is important for young children to be able to identify the components in a healthy meal.

How should vegetables, fruits, or other foods not listed in the Food Buying Guide be credited?

  • Foods not listed in the Food Buying Guide may be served in CACFP. If a food is served as part of a reimbursable meal, but not listed in the Food Buying Guide, the yield information of a similar food or in-house yield may be used to determine the contribution towards meal pattern requirements, with State agency approval. Instructions for developing yields are available in the introduction section of the Food Buying Guide, page I-3 ( Additional information on how foods may contribute towards a reimbursable meal is available in memorandum TA 01-2015, Child Nutrition Programs and Traditional Foods ( 2015_Child_Nutrition_Programs_and_Traditional_Foods.pdf).

What meal would be disallowed if a center provides juice at lunch and snack?

  • If juice is served more than once per day, the meal with the lowest reimbursement rate in which juice was served is disallowed. In this example, snack would be disallowed because it is the meal with the lower reimbursement rate.

Can a 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice blend be served to fulfill both the vegetable component and the fruit component?

  • One hundred percent fruit and vegetables juice blends are allowable in CACFP, but they cannot fulfill both the vegetable component and fruit component in the same meal. Similar to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, a 100 percent fruit and vegetable blend may contribute to the fruit component when fruit juice or puree is the most prominent ingredient; and a 100 percent fruit and vegetable blend may contribute to the vegetable component when vegetable juice or puree is the most prominent ingredient. Keep in mind that fruit or vegetable juice may not be served to infants and may only be served once per day to children 1 year old and older and adults. 

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