March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA is highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation. We could not have done this work without the support of our partners. Below is a story from one of our partners, the National CACFP Sponsors Association. Family child care homes, as well as some child care centers and afterschool programs, participate in Child and Adult Care Food Programs under sponsoring organizations. The ongoing support and training that sponsors routinely provide helps CACFP providers serve nutritious meals and keep children healthy.
By Vicki Lipscomb, President, National CACFP Sponsors Association
Did you know CACFP provides 1.9 billion meals and snacks for over 3.3 million children?
Hunger is unacceptable to everyone. To combat the food insecurity that one in four Americans face, there are a number of government programs designed to provide access to healthy food. Many people know about USDA’s school lunch program and you may have even heard of the WIC program, but did you know that the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides 1.9 billion meals and snacks to over 3.3 million children in child care centers, family care homes and after-school programs? In addition, CACFP provides that same access to over 115,000 elderly persons in adult day care.
The primary goals of the CACFP are to serve nutritious meals to children and help establish positive eating habits at the earliest stages of development. Research indicates that the CACFP is an indicator of quality child care. Children that are cared for by providers participating in the CACFP benefit by being fed nutritious, USDA regulated meals that ensure their proper development. These children gain from early nutrition education that helps them establish positive eating habits that will enrich the quality of their diet throughout their life.
Child care providers receive nutrition education and support services from their CACFP sponsors who help them serve nutritious meals and create a positive eating environment for children. The quality of child care provided in our community is improved due to educational and financial resources available to caregivers through the CACFP.
There are thousands of people who are making sure preschool children in America are getting access to healthy foods on a regular basis and many of our neighbors haven’t ever heard of it! That’s one of the missions of the National CACFP Sponsors Association (NCA) to raise awareness across the nation and encourage communities to come together to learn and acknowledge the many ways we all benefit from the hard work and dedication of CACFP professionals and the program itself. The NCA knows that when we all join forces and work together the message we provide is stronger and will receive more attention. Free resources are available at www.cacfp.org.