Healthy Food and Beverage Standards for Meals

The United States Department of Agriculture's recommended healthy eating pattern from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the basis for these standards. If these standards are met, individual nutrients needs should be met as well.



  • A minimum of 2 cups of a variety of fruits daily.
  • Fresh and frozen fruits, instead of canned. If canned fruit is served, it should be canned in light syrup, unsweetened juice, or water.


  • A minimum of 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily.
  • Vegetables that are fresh, frozen with no added sodium, or canned with low or no added sodium.
  • A variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange, and beans and peas.


  • Approximately 6 oz. of grains daily.
  • At least 50% whole grains in each serving.


  • Approximately 5 ½ oz. of protein daily.
  • A variety of lean proteins including meat, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy products.

Milk Products

  • Institutions should offer low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk and milk products daily.


Offer only beverages from the Healthiest and Healthier lists.


  • Water should be available at all meals. Plain or unsweetened carbonated water (seltzer).
  • Non-fat or low-fat (1%) milk and milk products that are unflavored, calcium fortified and less than 102 calories per 8 oz. serving.
  • Unsweetened coffee or tea.
  • 100% fruit juice, with no added sweeteners (less than 8 oz serving for adults).
  • 100% vegetable juice; provide low sodium option (less than 230mg of sodium per serving).


  • Zero- and low-calorie beverages, less than 25 calories per 8 oz. for beverages other than 100% juice or milk.
  • Non-caloric, artificially sweetened beverages (diet).
  • Fat-free or 1% flavored milk (less than 22g sugar per 8 oz.).