What is CACFP?
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), is a federally funded program that is administered by the states that pays for healthy meals and snacks for children and adults in day care. CACFP improves the quality of the programs participating in it.
Beyond child being served nutritious meals CACFP supports:
- The establishment of positive eating habits at the earliest stages of development.
- With proper nutrition, a child is less likely to experience illness and fatigue and will develop at a normal physical and intellectual pace.
- Providers receive nutrition education and financial resources from their CACFP sponsor.
How does CACFP work for family child care homes?
The Family Child Care Homes portion of CACFP is for those who meet their state’s legal definition and requirements. In Maine that all licensed family child care programs can participate. Child care homes receive money for serving nutritious meals. Up to 2 meals and 1 snack per child per day are reimbursable through CACFP. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees CACFP. States approve sponsors and centers to operate the program. States also monitor and provide training and guidance to make sure CACFP runs right. Sponsoring organizations support child care homes with training and monitoring. All child care programs participate in CACFP through a sponsor.
What kinds of meals are served?
CACFP meals follow USDA nutrition standards:
- Breakfast consists of milk, fruits or vegetables, and grains.
- Lunch and Supper require milk, grains, meat or other proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
- Snacks include two different servings from the five components: milk, fruits, vegetables, grains, or meat or other proteins.
The CACFP nutrition standards for meals and snacks served in the CACFP are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Under these standards, meals and snacks served include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat. In addition, the standards encourage breastfeeding and better align the CACFP with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and with other child nutrition programs.
USDA provides guidance, resources, best practices, and training for CACFP centers and day care homes to support them in providing healthy, balanced meals and snacks to the children and adults they serve.
One-Page Summaries of the Meal Patterns
Need a form for a meal count worksheet, portion menu, meal pattern guidelines? Maine government’s CACFP forms page has those any many others that providers can use to monitor and track their CACFP information.
Complete claims for reimbursement are submitted monthly on the proper reimbursement forms. Reimbursement is calculated using the number of reimbursable meals by type (breakfast, lunch, supper and snack) multiplied by the applicable income eligibility based rate per meal. Congress set the reimbursement rates which are updated yearly.