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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 making students take food that they don’t like or won’t eat. "Offer versus Serve" gives
students flexibility. Meals still meet federal nutrition standards. Depending on how menus are
planned in the school, a set number of food groups are offered. 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.  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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