USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) works to combat hunger by bringing nutritious and wholesome foods to tables for children in child care centers, homes, and afterschool programs as well as adults in day care. More than 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks each day through CACFP. As an added benefit, these meals and snacks often reflect regional and local food preferences.
During National CACFP Week (March 11-17), USDA joins the National CACFP Sponsors Association and other partners in thanking state agency staff, CACFP sponsoring organizations, child care centers, adult day care sites and family child care homes for their important work.
Over the past year, USDA has held listening sessions with states and CACFP operators and taken feedback to better support providers through job training, both through USDA’s Team Nutrition initiative and a partnership with the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN). The Institute has travelled the country providing 95 in-person CACFP Meal Pattern Trainings to nearly 4,000 CACFP operators.
Providers play an important role in helping parents and other caregivers by providing nutritious food for children and dependent adults during the workday. To further support program providers, the Team Nutrition initiative offers monthly CACFP Halftime: Thirty on Thursdays webinars in both English and Spanish. These interactive sessions have been widely attended, averaging more than 1,000 participants each month.
States are also using Team Nutrition Training Grant funds to pilot innovative ways to reach CACFP operators, especially those that work out of rural or hard-to-reach areas. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed an online CACFP training with grant funds, which resulted in significant improvements in child care providers’ knowledge of meal pattern requirements and ways to plan healthful menus. In-person culinary workshops as well as online food preparation videos are further helping CACFP operators learn to prepare nutritious and delicious meals and snacks.
The state of Massachusetts is just one example, other states are in the process of collecting evaluation data on their training efforts so that effective training strategies can be implemented on a broader scale and replicated by others.
You can learn more about USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program and find more ways to celebrate CACFP during the week, through the Team Nutrition website.