Nutrient Analysis-School Meals Initiative (SMI)
School food authorities are required to plan menus that meet key nutrient requirements based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Specific thresholds have been set for calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Refer to the USDA Dietary Specification link for specific nutrient requirements for the meal patterns.
The state agency conducts a review of the dietary specifications once every three years during the administrative review. The type of assessment conducted depends on the assessed risk level related to several meal planning practices. While school food authorities may consistently choose to analyze menus using a software program, it is not required. By planning meals that are consistent with the USDA meal patterns and making consistent efforts toward inclusion of healthy foods, the menus should fall within the dietary specification requirements.
Refer to the USDA resources (under Related offsite resources) for additional information, including the dietary specifications per meal pattern, a list of approved USDA menu planning software programs, Healthier School Meals Fact Sheets and USDA Foods Fact Sheets.