Child Care Food Program
WHAT IS THE CHILD AND ADULT CARE FOOD PROGRAM (CACFP)
The USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care and making it more affordable for many low-income families. The CACFP serves nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, TrustLine facilities, who participate in after school care programs, or reside in emergency shelters. Each day, over 3.2 million children and over 112,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks based on USDA guidelines through the CACFP.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE CACFP
CASH REIMBURSEMENT to participating facilities for serving healthy meals to enrolled children that meet USDA nutritional guidelines. All participants receive nutritious meals and snacks. Participants receive training in nutrition, based on USDA guidelines and education about providing healthy food and healthy eating. CACFP funds are used to cover the costs of food service operations.
Studies and Research
Studies show that children participating in the CACFP receive meals that have higher intakes of key nutrients, have fewer servings of fats and sweets, and are nutritionally superior to meals served to non-participating children. Research cites participation in CACFP as one of the major factors influencing quality care. Of all family child care homes considered to provide good quality care, over 87 percent participate in the CACFP.
The CACFP also makes child care and afterschool programs more affordable for low-income parents who rely on these programs to provide a safe and healthy place for their children
Funding and Responsibility
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administer the CACFP through grants to states. Independent centers and sponsoring organizations enter into agreements with their administering state agencies to assume administrative and financial responsibility for CACFP food service operations.
The National School Lunch Act, as amended, authorizes federal assistance to states that administer the CACFP. States may use the assistance to help start, maintain, and expand non-profit food services for children enrolled for child care in nonresidential institutions.
Day Care Homes
A family or group day care home must sign an agreement with a sponsoring organization to participate in CACFP. Day care home must be licensed, TrustLined and approved to provide day care services. Reimbursement for meals served in day care homes is based upon eligibility for tier I rates (which targets higher levels of reimbursement to low-income areas, providers, or children) or lower tier II rates.
Eligible public or private non-profit child care centers, "at-risk" after-school care programs, Head Start programs, and institutions which are licensed or approved to provide day care services may participate in the CACFP.
For-profit centers must receive title XX funds or at least 25 percent of enrolled children or licensed capacity (whichever is less) must be eligible for free and reduced price meals. Meals served to children are reimbursed at rates based upon each child’s eligibility for free, reduced price, or paid meals.
“At-Risk” Afterschool Care Programs
Community-based programs that offer enrichment activities for at-risk, children and youth, 18 and under, after the regular school day ends, can provide free meals and snacks through CACFP. Programs must be offered in areas where at least 50 percent of the children are eligible for free and reduced price meals based upon school data.
Since July 1, 1999, public or private nonprofit emergency shelters which provide residential and food services to children and youth experiencing homelessness may participate in CACFP. Eligible shelters may receive reimbursement for serving up to three meals each day to residents 18 and under.
CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT FOR MEALS SERVED
Institutions must submit accurate monthly claims for reimbursement to their administering agencies. Reimbursement is not allowed for meals or snacks that are: Served to a child or an adult who is not enrolled for care; served in excess of licensed or authorized capacity; not approved in the agreement; served in excess of the maximum number of approved meal services; or out of compliance with meal pattern requirements.
Emergency shelters may not claim reimbursement for meals served to children who are not residents.
Reimbursement in Day Care Homes
Program payments for day care homes are based on the number of meals served to enrolled children, multiplied by the appropriate reimbursement rate for each breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack they are approved to serve. Day care homes may be approved to claim up to two reimbursable meals (breakfast, lunch or supper) and one snack, or two snacks and one meal, to each eligible participant, each day. Sponsoring organizations also receive administrative funds related to the documented costs they incur in planning, organizing, and managing CACFP.
Tier I day care homes are those that are located in low-income areas, or those in which the provider’s household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal income poverty guidelines. Sponsoring organizations may use elementary school free and reduced price enrollment data or census block group data to determine which areas are low-income.
Tier II homes are those family day care homes which do not meet the location or provider income criteria for tier I home. The provider in a tier II home may elect to have the sponsoring organization identify income-eligible children, so that meals served to those children who qualify for free and reduced price meals would be reimbursed at the higher tier I rates.
A child’s eligibility for tier I rates in a tier II day care home may be documented through submission of a Meal Benefit Form which details family size and income or participation in any of a number of means-tested State or Federal programs with eligibility at or below 185 percent of poverty.
Reimbursement in Day Care Centers
Independent centers and Sponsoring organizations receive cash reimbursement for serving meals to enrolled children and adults that meet Federal nutritional guidelines. The CACFP meal pattern varies according to age and types of meal served.
Centers and day care homes may be approved to claim up to two reimbursable meals (breakfast, lunch or supper) and one snack, or two snacks and one meal, to each eligible participant, each day. Emergency shelters may claim up to three reimbursable meals (breakfast, lunch and supper) to each eligible resident, each day. Afterschool care programs may claim reimbursement for serving one meal and one snack to each eligible participant, each day.
Reimbursement for centers is computed by claiming percentages, blended per meal rates, or actual meal count by type (breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack) and eligibility category (free, reduced price, and paid). The State agency assigns a method of reimbursement for centers, based on meal times rate.
Reimbursement for emergency shelters and afterschool care programs is based on the actual meal count by type (breakfast, lunch supper or snack) multiplied by the free rate.
Downloadable Forms for Child Care Centers
Building the Future
Center's Weekly Menus (Sample)
Justice For All (Form AD-475A)
Monthly Menu Plan Non Infant (Sample)
Daily Meal Production Record (Sample)
Weekly Attendance & Meal Count Worksheet (Sample)
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
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