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Offer vs. Serve

Students Succeed with School Meals


"Offer versus Serve"

What is "Offer versus Serve"?



"Offer versus Serve" lets students turn down foods they do not plan to eat. This helps reduce waste by not forcing students take food that they don’t like or won’t eat. "Offer versus Serve" gives students flexibility. Meals still meet federal nutrition standards.



Students must select a certain number of food groups for a school meal. The number of food groups that are offered and the number the student can decline varies. Signage is posted at each serving line to assist students and staff.

**Students must choose at least 1/2 cup fruit or
vegetable in order for the meal to be counted as reimbursable by USDA.

What are the Food Groups?

What is the difference between "Offer versus Serve" and "Choice"?

• "Choice" means there are several options within a food group.


• For example, from the Grain/Bread group, a student can choose between a roll, French bread or


corn muffin.



Offer choice

How does "Offer versus Serve" work?

• School meals are priced as a unit.


• The menu may have 5 items planned as part of the meal, but at least 3 items must be chosen in


order to count as a school meal.


• The student can take 3, 4 or 5 of the items and be charged the same price.

When is offer vs. served used?

¹ Food groups are used in Food-Based Menu Planning for school meals.
² The school system decides if it wants to implement “Offer versus Serve”, when it is optional and in what grades, and how many
items students can decline.

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