1 Step 1: Get Set for Success
Trainers: The information below will help you plan for training child nutrition program
staff to implement OVS in programs using Nutrient Standard Menu Planning (NSMP) or
Assisted NSMP. Refer to the section on How to Use This Manual for more training tips.
Note: Throughout this module we will use the term Nutrient Standard Menu
Planning (NSMP). All requirements and information discussed herein also apply
to Assisted Nutrient Standard Menu Planning (ANSMP).
After this lesson, participants will be able to:
■ Describe what students must be offered for lunch and breakfast under NSMP
and ANSMP .
■ Recognize reimbursable lunches and breakfasts under OVS provisions for
■ Explain menu planning tips and how to deal with logistical issues when
implementing OVS under NSMP .
■ Describe ways to increase awareness and support for OVS throughout the
■ Access additional resources for OVS as needed.
Condiment/Garnishes— A small amount of food used to enhance the ﬂavor or
appearance of a menu item, including foods such as relishes, catsup, mustard,
salad dressing, jelly, gravy, whipped topping, butter and margarine, as well as
garnishes (grated cheese, chopped vegetables, grated coconut, raisins, chopped
nuts, and so on). Condiments must be included in the nutrient analysis.
Entrée— A combination of foods or a single food offered as the main course.
Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV)— such as soda water, water ices,
certain candies, and chewing gum, which cannot be served during a meal
service in the area where reimbursable meals are served and/or eaten. However,
small amounts of FMNV can be used when part of a menu item, such as candy
sprinkles on a cupcake and must be included in the nutrient analysis.
Nutrient Standard Menu Planning • 1
Menu item—Under NSMP any single food or combination of foods except a
condiment or food of minimal nutritional value.
Side dish— Any food other than the entrée or milk, except a condiment or food
of minimal nutritional value.
■ Overhead transparencies
■ Activity sheets
■ Flip chart (easel and paper), markers
■ Food photo cards or plastic/rubber food models
(See the Training Tools section at the end of this module.)
2 • OVS Module 3
2 Step 2: Give an OVS Overview
Trainers: This section introduces the concept, goals and overall requirements of OVS,
written as you might present them in a training session. In the activity, participants will
brainstorm the potential beneﬁts of OVS.
What is OVS?
OT-1 Display OT-1: What Is OVS?
What Is OVS?
a. An alternative way to start a
Question: Is OVS… tennis match?
b. A food service style where
students serve themselves?
c. A new way to offer more food
a. An alternative way to start a tennis match? choices on school menus?
d. A system designed to decrease
b. A food service style where students serve food waste and give students
themselves? Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 1
c. A new way to offer more food choices on
d. A system designed to decrease food waste and give students greater
Answer: d. OVS is a provision that allows students to decline either 1 or 2 of the
menu items in a school lunch (or 1 menu item in a school breakfast) that they
do not intend to eat.
As a result, OVS can help achieve two major goals:
■ To reduce food waste in school nutrition programs.
■ To permit students to select only the foods they want to consume.
Simply put, when students are allowed to take only what they intend to eat, less
food makes it into the garbage can at the end of a meal.
Nutrient Standard Menu Planning • 3
Who, When, and Where? OVS Requirements
OT-2 Display OT-2: OVS: Who, When, and Where?
OVS: Who, When, and Where?
OVS is: Who decides?
Senior high schools, as deﬁned by the State ● Required for lunch at
senior high schools
● School food authority decides
whether to implement OVS
educational agency, are required to implement ● Optional at lunch in
lower grade levels ● Students decide what foods
(except the entrée at lunch)
OVS for lunch. Under OVS, students must ● Optional at breakfast
in all grades
to decline, if any
select the entrée but may choose which other
foods to decline, if any. For school breakfast,
OVS is optional at senior high schools. Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 2
Below the senior high school level, OVS is optional for both breakfast and
lunch. Many school nutrition programs ﬁnd that having OVS also in elementary
and middle schools cuts down food waste. School food authorities (SFAs) have
the right to decide whether to have OVS for students younger than senior high
school and in what grades to implement it.
Why? The Beneﬁts of Implementing OVS
ACTIVITY: Beneﬁts Brainstorm (brainstorm)
1. Ask the participants to brainstorm the potential beneﬁts of
2. Write their ideas on a ﬂip chart or blank transparency.
3. Summarize the group’s ideas and list any additional ones.
■ Less food waste.
■ Potential cost savings (may be able to prepare less food).
■ Increased customer satisfaction.
■ Students may eat more food—and get the nutrients they need—because
they are more likely to eat the foods they select for themselves.
4 • OVS Module 3
3 Step 3: Outline the Lunch Line
Trainers: This section explains program requirements speciﬁc to NSMP—or what
students must be offered for lunch—written as you might present it in a training
session. In the activity, participants will look at sample lunch menus and discuss
variations they observe.
While this is not a menu-planning course, you will need to know what foods
(and how much) students must be offered in order to know what qualiﬁes as a
reimbursable meal under OVS. So we will start by reviewing the program
requirements for school lunch under NSMP .
What Must Be Offered at Lunch
OT-3 Display OT-3: What’s for Lunch?
What’s for Lunch?
Students must be offered a A menu item is any single food or
To meet National School Lunch Program lunch that:
● Contains a minimum of
combination of foods except:
3 menu items:
requirements under NSMP the menu planner
, • Entrée
● Foods of minimal nutritional
value (FMNV) that are not part
of another menu item
must plan and offer lunches that: • Side Dish
• Fluid Milk
● Meets nutrient standards
■ Contain a minimum of 3 menu items ● Meets planned serving sizes
(entrée, at least 1 side dish, and ﬂuid milk). Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 3
■ Meet the nutrient standards for the
appropriate grade or age groups when averaged over one school
■ Meet the minimum serving sizes established by the menu planner.
Let’s take a look at the three parts of this requirement: menu items, nutrient
standards, and serving sizes.
Nutrient Standard Menu Planning • 5
Under NSMP all foods count as menu items except:
■ Condiments/Garnishes—small amounts of food used to enhance the ﬂavor
or appearance of a menu item, including foods such as relishes, catsup,
mustard, salad dressing, jelly, gravy, whipped topping, butter and margarine,
as well as garnishes (grated cheese, chopped vegetables, grated coconut,
raisins, chopped nuts, and so on). While these foods cannot count as menu
items, condiments and garnishes must be included in the nutrient analysis of
■ Foods of minimal nutritional value (FMNV)—such items as soda water, water
ices, certain candies, and chewing gum. While FMNV cannot be offered as
menu items, they can be used to garnish menu items. For example, a
cupcake decorated with candy corn can be counted as a menu item.
OT-4 Display OT-4: Menu Items at Lunch
Menu Items at Lunch
Entrée: Side Dish:
A lunch menu must contain a minimum of 3 ● Combination of foods or
single food item
● Any other food except:
menu items. What are the 3 menu items? ●
Offered as the main dish
Central focus of the meal
• FMNV not in a menu item
1. Entrée—a single food or a combination of ●
Served as a beverage
foods offered as the main course. The entrée
is the central focus of the meal and forms Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 4
the framework around which the rest of
meal is planned.
2. Side Dish—any other food (except condiments of FMNV).
3. Milk—ﬂuid milk, served as a beverage.
Schools can offer entrées comprised of several foods that can be offered
separately or together, as 1 menu item or more. How the menu is written and
how foods are offered to students determine if the entrée is 1 or more foods.
There are no “combination foods” in NSMP—only menu items.
The menu planner determines what constitutes an entrée-not the physical set-up
of the foods on the serving line or whether foods are served together or separately.
For example, the serving line may be set up so that the hamburger and bun are
put together on the serving line, but the “Hamburger on a Bun” is still the entrée
and the student must take both the hamburger patty and the bun as the entrée.
Packaging entrées together that contain several foods helps students to
understand that they must take the full entrée and may not reject any part of it.
6 • OVS Module 3
OT-5 Display OT-5: One Menu Item—or Two?
One Menu Item — or Two?
Q: 1 or 2 menu items? 1 menu item 2 menu items
For example: A: It depends on how
you offer it.
Hamburger on a Bun
Hamburger Patty (entrée)
Bun (side dish)
■ If you offer “Hamburger on a Bun” as the Turkey and Gravy over
Turkey with Gravy (entrée)
Mashed Potatoes (side dish)
entrée, this counts as 1 menu item and the Burrito Grande (ﬁlled with Bean Burrito (entrée)
beans, rice, salsa, etc.)
student does not have a choice of taking (entrée) Spanish Rice (side dish)
either the hamburger or bun. Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 5
■ If you offer “Hamburger Patty” as the entrée
and “Bun” as a side dish, this counts as 2 menu items. A student must take
the hamburger but may decline the bun.
Can you think of other examples?
Offering a Variety of Entrees to Encourage Students to Select the Entrée:
Because students must take the entrée to have a reimbursable meal under OVS
for NSMP the menu planner should plan to meet student preferences by offering
choices within the entrée, if appropriate. For example, the planned menu being
offered includes an entrée of turkey and cornbread dressing; gravy; and a roll.
The menu planner knows from past production records that some students do
not care for cornbread dressing, but the menu planner also knows that students
cannot reject part of the entrée and still have it count towards a reimbursable meal.
A solution? In order to encourage all the students to select an entrée, the menu
planner could plan entrée choices. For example:
Entrées: Choose 1
Roasted Turkey and Southern Cornbread Dressing; Brown Gravy;
and Yeast Roll
Roasted Turkey; Brown Gravy; and 2 Yeast Rolls
Because gravy is a condiment, it is not considered to be part of the entrée.
Therefore, a student may reject the gravy and still be considered to have taken
Nutrient Standard Menu Planning • 7
Display OT-5: One Menu Item—or Two?
One Menu Item — or Two?
(remaining part, after discussion) Q: 1 or 2 menu items? 1 menu item 2 menu items
A: It depends on how Hamburger on a Bun Hamburger Patty (entrée)
you offer it. Bun (side dish)
Turkey and Gravy over Turkey with Gravy (entrée)
Nutrient Standards (entrée) Mashed Potatoes (side dish)
Burrito Grande (ﬁlled with Bean Burrito (entrée)
beans, rice, salsa, etc.)
(entrée) Spanish Rice (side dish)
The second part of the requirement focuses on
meeting the nutrient standards for the Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 5
appropriate grade/age groups. These standards
vary because a child’s nutritional needs vary with age. Choosing the
appropriate nutrient standards for the grade/age of the children being served is
the menu planner’s responsibility. All school nutrition program staff should be
aware of the grade/age groups to better understand the reasons for the
differences in the foods or portion sizes offered.
OT-6 Display OT-6: Nutrient Standards for Lunch
Nutrient Standards for Lunch
Nutrient standards for lunch Menu planners can use The menu planner may
At a minimum, the menu planner must use the are established for the
following grade groups:
nutrient standards based
on the following established
customize the nutrient
standards to more closely ﬁt
the age/grade combinations
in their schools/district.
established grade groups. The grade groups ●
Ages 3-6 years
Ages 7-10 years
In addition, if only one age
or grade is outside the
established levels, schools
Ages 11-13 years
established for school lunch are:
● Grades K-3 (optional) may use the levels for
● Ages 14 years and older the majority of children,
regardless of the option
■ Grades K-6 Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 6
■ Grades 7-12
■ Grades K-3 (optional)
As an alternative, the menu planner may use the established age groups for
■ Ages 3-6 years
■ Ages 7-10 years
■ Ages 11-13 years
■ Ages 14 years and older
Menu planners can also customize nutrient standards so that they more closely
match the age/grade combinations of their schools or districts. In addition, if
only one age or grade is outside the established levels, schools may use the
levels for the majority of children regardless of the option selected.
8 • OVS Module 3
To meet the nutrient standards, the menu planner chooses the appropriate
serving size of each menu item. The menu planner does this to make sure the
amount of food is appropriate for the nutritional needs of each age/grade group
and the serving size is one that a student in the age/grade group could
reasonably consume. Thus, it is important for the menu planner to
communicate the planned serving sizes to all staff, and for staff to prepare and
serve food accordingly.
While there are no prescribed serving sizes for NSMP once the menu is planned,
the planned serving sizes become the required serving sizes for a
reimbursable meal and for OVS. If a smaller portion is served, the lunch does
not meet requirements and cannot be counted for reimbursement.
ACTIVITY: Show What You Know (cooperative learning)
1. Assign each group of 4-5 participants one or two different sample lunch
menus for grades K-6 from Activity Sheet 1.
2. Ask them to review the menu(s) and put together an illustration using food
photo cards or plastic/rubber food models.
3. Then, have them discuss and decide which foods offered represent which
menu items (entrée, side dish, milk) and how many menu items are being
4. Ask each group to report their results to the larger group, displaying their
OT-7 5. Display summary information on OT-7,
Sample Lunch Menus NSMP
showing all ﬁve lunch menus and the menu Foods Offered Menu Items Foods Offered
Vegetable Lasagna, Italian Bread 4 menu items: Honey Lemon Chicken, Brown 5 menu items:
items offered in each. OR American Sub Sandwich
Carrot/Celery Sticks with Dip
Entrée (choose one)
Rice Pilaf OR Cheese Pizza
Seasoned Green Beans
Entrée (choose one)
Peach Crisp Side dish Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookie Side dish
Choice of Milk Milk Choice of Milk Milk
French Dip Roast Beef Sandwich, 4 menu items: Vegetable Egg Roll w/Sweet & Sour 6 menu items:
6. Answer questions and summarize as Oven Fries OR Nachos with Beans
Tossed Salad w/ Ranch Dressing
Strawberry-Banana Fruited Gelatin
Entrée (choose one)
Sauce OR Cajun Fish Filet w/Lemon
Broccoli & Cauliﬂower Polonaise
Entrée (choose one)
Choice of Milk Milk Chilled Pineapple Chunks Side dish
necessary to check for understanding. Also Beef-Vegetable Soup w/ Crackers
OR Fusilli Pasta w/ Tomato Sauce,
Salad Bar w/ Assorted Dressings OR
5 menu items:
Entrée (choose one)
Side dish (choose one)
Peanut Butter Bar
Choice of Milk
Assorted Steamed Vegetables
refer to the Activity Sheet 1—Answer Key Whole-Wheat Roll
Fruit Juice Bar OR Sherbet
Choice of Milk
Side dish (choose one)
in Appendix A. Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 7
7. Point out that this sample is designed to
show how menus can be planned with different numbers of menu items.
However, in NSMP especially, daily consistency in the number of menu items
is important for smooth implementation of OVS. This will be discussed
Nutrient Standard Menu Planning • 9
4 Step 4: Recognize Reimbursable Lunches
Trainers: This section deﬁnes reimbursable lunches—or what a student must take—
under OVS provisions, written as you might present it in a training session. In the small-
group activity, participants will practice recognizing reimbursable lunches from the
sample menus given.
In this section you will learn to recognize reimbursable lunches—that is lunches
that can be claimed for Federal reimbursement. There are no established
minimum serving sizes for speciﬁc foods or food types under NSMP However,
once the menu planner establishes serving sizes for foods on a menu, these
become the minimum quantities under OVS.
Many students take and eat all the menu items offered. These students gain the
most nutrition from school meals. But to minimize food waste and ensure that
students select foods providing a minimum level of nutrients, minimum
amounts of food allowed in reimbursable meals have been set. It is these
minimums we will focus on here.
General OVS Requirements
OT-8 Display OT-8: Reimbursable Lunches
General requirements for OVS at lunch:
The following are general requirements for ● Students must be offered the full planned menu in planned serving sizes.
● To count towards OVS, the student must take the full planned serving of a
OVS for lunch under NSMP: ● The student must always take an entrée.
● If the planned menu contains 3 menu items, the student may decline only
1 menu item. If the planned menu contains more than 3 menu items, the
■ Students must be offered the full planned student may decline only 2 items.
● Students may take smaller portions of the declined menu items.
● The meal must be priced as a unit. That is, the student who takes 2 menu
menu in planned serving sizes. items (from 3 or 4 offered menu items) pays the same price as a student
who takes all menu items offered.
■ To count towards OVS, the student must Nutrient Standard Menu Planning 8
take the full planned serving of a menu item.
■ The student must always take the entrée.
■ If the planned menu contains 3 menu items, the student may decline only 1
menu item. If the planned menu contains more than 3 menu items, the
student may decline only 2 menu items.
■ Students may take smaller portions of the declined menu items.
■ The meal must be priced as a unit. That is, the student who takes 2 menu
items (from 3 or 4 offered menu items) pays the same price as a student who
takes all menu items offered.
10 • OVS Module 3
OVS Requirements by Number of Menu Items
Menu planners often offer more than 3 menu items for several reasons. It gives
students a greater variety of foods to choose from, it is easier to meet the
nutrient standards over a school week of menus, and it helps to keep food waste
in check. Meals with only 3 menu items often feature large entrees to help meet
calorie and nutrient standards. Students may not be hungry for such large
entrees, and since they cannot decline the entrée, offering only 3 menu items
can lead to more food waste.
So, how many menu items may a student decline for a meal to still qualify as
reimbursable? One or two, depending on the number of menu items offered.
OT-9 Display OT-9: Lunch Menus (ﬁrst half)
3 Menu Items: 5 Menu Items:
The menu displayed on the transparency is an ● Taco Salad ● Taco Salad
example of a 3-menu item lunch, the minimum ●
Choice of Milk
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