SANA Update – USDA Approves Soy Tempeh in Schools


The USDA Food and Nutrition Service recently approved soy tempeh for reimbursement under Child Nutrition Programs, including the National School Lunch Program. SANA has been advocating for this action since early 2018, when the organization made this submission to USDA.

Soy tempeh is a well-known fermented food that is a major protein source for consumers in Southeast Asia. Soy tempeh cakes consist primarily of whole soybeans that have been dehulled, soaked, and cooked, along with water, fermentation culture (often called “tempeh culture”) and vinegar or a similar acidulant. While soy tempeh is like tofu in that it is a soybean-based food, tempeh is quite different from tofu. Tempeh, unlike tofu, still contains the whole soybeans including the natural fiber, lipids and carbohydrates. Soy tempeh also contains all the whole soybean proteins and amino acids.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identify soy products as protein foods, and a good source of cooper, manganese, and iron. Because vegetarianism is practiced as a tenet of various religions, crediting soy tempeh will allow schools to better meet the nutritional needs of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups.

The Food and Nutrition Service will update the Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs to include tempeh in the meat/mean t alternatives section.

Member company SunRhize Foods, supported SANA’s efforts to have soy tempeh approved by USDA.