Healthy Menus

Nutritious food fuels children’s growing bodies and developing minds. Children may eat much of their food for the day in childcare. Offering nutritious foods helps children be healthy and ready to learn and encourages a lifetime of health eating habits.

Application Documentation

In your REACH Child Nutrition application, you will upload documentation of meeting the healthy menus best practices along with creating positive mealtimes, engaging with families around healthy eating and including child nutrition in the facility’s policy.

REACH Application DocumentationGo NAP SACC Best Practices
One month of menus that show the facility meets the basic requirements of NC licensing** and CACFP meal patterns** as well as these best practices:
*Serving whole grain-rich foods* two times per day or more 
*Serving dark green, orange, red, or deep yellow vegetables* at least 3-4 times per week 
*Serving high-fat meats* less than 1 time per week or never.
*Serving fruit juice two times per week or less
CN10 High-fiber, whole grain foods are offered two times per day or more. 
CN4 Dark green, orange, red, or deep yellow vegetables are offered 1 time per day or more.
CN8 High-fat meats* are offered less than 1 time per week or never.
CN15 Fruit juice is offered two times per week or less.

∗ Whole grain-rich foods include whole wheat bread, crackers, and pasta; oatmeal, Cheerios, and other whole grain cereals; brown rice and whole corn tortillas. Check out this resource (in Spanish) from the CACFP on finding whole grain-rich foods.

*Dark green, orange, red and deep yellow vegetables include spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, collards, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, bell peppers, beets, red cabbage, and tomatoes.

*High-fat meats include ground beef that is less than 93% lean; processed meats like bologna and sausage; and fried and pre-fried foods like breaded/fried chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Bacon is not creditable in the CACFP, so menus including bacon would not be accepted. Check out this resource (in Spanish) from the CACFP for more information on creditable meats and meat alternatives.

** Review the NC Child Care Rules related to nutrition here (page 47 for centers and page 75 for FCCH’s) and the CACFP meal patterns here.

Tips for your documentation:

  • You may provide one monthly menu or four weekly menus from a single month. (You will be able to upload between one and four files)
  • Menus must be dated in the past 12 months.
  • Menus must comply with NC Child Care Rules and CACFP meal pattern requirements. For example facilities must serve all of the components needed for a reimbursable meal at each mealtime and not serve foods with little nutritional value (sweets, fruit drinks, soft drinks) except for during special occasions.
  • Please make any notes on your menus that will help reviewers verify best practices. For example, whole grain foods should be marked as whole grain (ex: instead of bread, Whole Wheat or WW bread). Fat content of ground beef and turkey should be marked.
  • Only preschool-age menus are required.


This menu provide a good example of what is required for REACH documentation. REACH added the stars and highlighting to show how the program met best practices – that is not required for the application. Whole grain are marked with WG and lean meats are marked which helps reviewers see that the best practices are being met. To meet the documentation requirement, the facilities would need to show four weekly menus that meet the best practices and other requirements as this does. The example menu was dated within 12 months of the facility’s application. It complies with NC licensing requirements and CACFP meal patterns and meets the best practices.

<<Back to Child Nutrition Recognition

One thought on “Healthy Menus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: