Coming Soon – Updated CACFP Meal Pattern – Compliance Date: October 1

October 1, 2017 is the date that all Child Nutrition Program operators must comply with the updated CACFP meal pattern requirements. See USDA website for more information.

Over 115,000 family child care providers working with 800 sponsors use CACFP to provide children with high-quality nutrition and learning experiences.

In 2016, CACFP provided 2 billion meals and snacks to:

  • 4.3 million children daily in child care centers, family care homes, and afterschool programs.
  • 130,000 persons in Adult Day Care.
  • 64,000 child care centers.

CACFP pays for nutritious meals and snacks for eligible children who are enrolled at participating:

  • Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes
    Young children attending participating family child homes, child care centers, or Head Start programs can receive up to two meals and a snack that meet USDA nutritional standards. The majority of CACFP participants are preschool-aged children. Eligibility is based either on the poverty status of the area or on the income of the enrolled children.
  • Afterschool Programs
    School-based afterschool programs providing enrichment activities for children and teenagers after school can also provide free snacks through CACFP in areas where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. CACFP funds also can pay for suppers for children attending afterschool programs.
  • Homeless Shelters
    CACFP provides up to three meals a day for children age 18 and younger living in homeless shelters.
  • Senior Day Care Centers
    CACFP provides meals and snacks to senior citizens attending nonresidential day care centers.

CACFP At-A-Glance

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Intervening in early childhood and providing high-quality child care programming is critically important in supporting the development of lifelong healthy behaviors. CACFP assures that low-income children in child care receive proper nutrition through ongoing training, technical assistance and support. In addition, by paying for nutritious meals and snacks for eligible children enrolled at participating child care centers and family child care homes, CACFP plays an important role in improving the quality of child care programs and in making them more affordable for low-income parents.
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To be eligible for participation in CACFP, a sponsor must be a licensed or approved child care provider or a public or nonprofit private school which provides organized child care programs for school children during off-school hours. Any child up to age 12 or adult attending a participating adult day care facility is entitled to meals. Programs eligible for participation include non-residential child or adult care institutions, such as group or family child care, child or adult care centers, Head Start, recreation centers, settlement houses, and afterschool programs. For-profit child care centers serving 25 percent or more low-income children are also eligible.
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Participating programs are required to provide meals and snacks according to the nutrition standards set by USDA. The reimbursement rates vary based on the type of meal (lunches have a higher reimbursement rate than snacks), and the type of institution. Child and adult care centers and family child care homes have means-tested reimbursement systems that provide higher levels of reimbursement for low-income families: centers have a three-tiered and homes have a two-tiered reimbursement rate structure. See USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s CACFP Reimbursement Rates. At-risk afterschool programs and homeless, domestic violence and runaway shelters are assumed to be serving low-income children and are reimbursed at the highest rate.