The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

"Q & A" on the Child and Adult Care Food Program

What is the CACFP?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the New York State Department of Health to provide reimbursement for meals and snacks served in licensed non-profit, for-profit, or public centers or licensed/registered child care homes.

What is the purpose of the program?

The purpose of CACFP is to improve the nutritional quality of meals served to children in child care centers and child care homes, and adults in day care. The program improves the nutritional quality of meals and snacks in three ways.

  1. Setting requirements for the kind and amount of food to be served.
  2. Providing money (reimbursement) to eligible programs and providers for meals that meet requirements.
  3. Requiring periodic training and monitoring for staff in participating organizations.

As greater numbers of young children are in child care, this program becomes more important in helping to assure that infants, toddlers, and young children are served nutritious meals and snacks as part of a healthy lifestyle.

How can I participate in the program?

To participate, child care home providers must sign up with a state-approved sponsor. Centers must be licensed, non-profit, or public. Centers may apply for themselves or participate through a sponsor that meets the same requirements. Centers, child care home providers, and sponsors should contact New York State Department of Health for details on program participation or to see if your program is eligible to participate, use the CACFP Pre-Screening Eligibility Tool found here.

What are the requirements of the program?

The basic USDA requirements for the CACFP are listed below.

  1. Prepare and serve meals that meet the CACFP Healthy Meal Pattern. The requirements include serving certain groups of foods in amounts appropriate to the child's age.
  2. Record daily menus served.
  3. Record the amounts of actual food items prepared and served at each meal.
  4. Record the numbers of children served at each meal.
  5. Keep financial records of meal costs and documentation of family size and income level of enrolled children.
  6. Follow safe food handling practices.
  7. Participate in training offered by the state agency or sponsor.
  8. Promote the safety and well-being of the children in your care.

How can the program help me (the child care provider)?

The program will:

  • Help pay for the meals you serve to children in your care.
  • Teach you how to plan and serve meals that meet child care standards for nutrition.
  • Let parents know that children have nutritious meals at child care.
  • Provide you with training that will help you do a good job and run your home-based business or child care center as a professional.

How can the program help parents?

Parents who leave children in your care want to feel confident that the child receives the best care, the care of a professional. By participating in the child care food program and following the rules, you can assure parents that their child:

  1. Is getting nutritious meals.
  2. Receives meals based on USDA nutrition standards for young children.
  3. Will learn about food and eating to help develop healthful eating habits.

Taken from What's Cooking? A fact sheet for the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Volume 4, Number 2, National Food Service Management Institute, The University of Mississippi.