The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that provides reimbursement for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care centers, and adult day care centers. This program is designed to ensure that those in need have access to healthy and nutritious food. It serves 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults across the country. The CACFP provides services to at-risk extracurricular programs, adult day centers, child care centers, family child care providers and emergency shelters.
The book describes dietary requirements, including dietary specifications that could be used for specific meals and throughout the day, covering all age groups, from infants to older adults, and eating patterns designed for use in a variety of settings, including home care and in large centers. Especially for infants, children and adults who are in day care for much of the day, the CACFP provides the vast majority of their daily food and nutrient intake and makes an important contribution to the food and nutrition safety net. For example, a serving of bread for children aged 1 to 5 is equivalent to half a slice, while it is a full slice for children aged 6 to 12 and may be more for adults. For children over 12 and adults, the pattern is the same as for children ages 6 to 12, with room for larger portions.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) expanded access to meals for homeless youth by allowing shelters to reimburse meals served to children and young adults under 25 through the CACFP. Family or group daycares (referred to as “homes”) are private and must be sponsored by an organization that takes responsibility for ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations and that acts as a channel for the reimbursement of meals to family day care providers. For-profit centers are eligible to participate only if, in addition, they receive Title XX funding for at least 25 percent of enrolled children or authorized capacity (whichever is lower), or (at least 25 percent) of children under guardianship are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals. The Child and Adult Care Food Program evaluates the nutritional needs of the CACFP population based on dietary guidelines for Americans and Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), and makes recommendations to review CACFP meal requirements.
Serving sizes for children and adults vary by age group, as shown in table 2-5 for breakfast and in Appendix E for all other meals and snacks by age group. Program payments for day care are based on the number of approved meals served to enrolled children multiplied by the corresponding reimbursement rate (Level I or Level II; see above) for each breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. Enrollment in daycare programs is 10 percent higher for children from families with incomes above the federal poverty level than for children from families in poverty, whose children are more likely to be cared for by a sibling (U. The meal components of the CACFP were established when the program began in 1968 as the Special Food Services Program for Children).
The USDA has proposed rules that cover modifications to CACFP meals, a request for feedback on the authorization of grain-based desserts in the CACFP, and options to streamline the application process for CACFP institutions to apply for the Summer Food Service Program. Joining these initiatives can help ensure that all eligible children have access to nutritious meals.