Child Nutrition

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

Meals and snacks served in child care are an important part of a child’s day. And now, with the increasing price of food, growing awareness of children’s health and obesity, and overall food insecurity among families and communities, the meals served in child care are even more important to families.  Many ECEC providers participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides reimbursement for healthy meals and snacks for low income children.

Currently, about 172,800 child care programs in every state participate in CACFP serving about 4.3 million children every day. ECEC members serve more than 200,000 children through the CACFP program at over 2,000 child care centers across the country. CACFP rules require meeting nutritional standards for meals and snacks served.

Early Implementation of the Updated CACFP Food Guidelinesmy plate graphic

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-296) required the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update the CACFP meal pattern requirements (food guidelines) to make them more consistent with:

  • The most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • The most recent relevant nutrition science, and
  • Appropriate authoritative scientific agency and organization recommendations.

On April 25, 2016, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a final rule Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revisions Related to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act” to update the CACFP meal patterns.  The final rule also revised requirements for infants and children in after school programs.  Those operating CACFP (and other USDA child nutrition programs) must comply with the updated food guidelines no later than October 1, 2017.  A memo outlining options for earlier implementation offers both guidance and Q&A for potential early adopters.

FNS has published some brief one pagers on the new meal and snack guidelines here. Additional resources and training to assist in supporting implementation and compliance with the new food guidelines is underway at USDA.

Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016

The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved H.R. 5003, “the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act,” by a party line vote of 20-14 on May 18.  Among controversial provisions is a three state block grant pilot for nutrition programs.  For a bill summary and Committee press release, click here.  For a list of the 32 amendments considered during Committee markup, click here.  For an analysis of the measure by the Food Research and Action Council (FRAC), click here.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization bill in January 2016, “the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity & Access Act.”  The bill has been mired in controversy since that time as members have sought to make adjustments to the measure to respond to a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the bill increases the deficit by $1 billion over the next 10 years. For a section by section description of the bill, click here.

Let’s Move! Child Care

Let’s Move! Child Care is a nationwide call-to-action that empowers child care providers to make positive health changes in children that can last a lifetime. ECEC is a proud supporter of this important initiative. Several ECEC member organizations have endorsed and are participating in Let’s Move! Child Care. And, Seagull Schools (a member of the Childcare Business Coalition of Hawaii) was recognized in May 2012 for outstanding work in this area!

ECEC Resources

ECEC Comments on Proposed Meal Schedule Regulations 2015

Other Helpful Resources & Reports

Final Rule on updated CACFP food guidelines

USDA Early Adopters Implementation Memo

USDA Brief One Pagers on New Meal Patterns

USDA Myplate Site

Myplate Recipes and Cookbooks

The Food Research & Action Center

Find providers who have met Let’s Move! Child Care goals

Let’s Move! Child Care State Challenge Winners

Let’s Move! Child Care Resource Center