Skip to main content

Healthy Changes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Posted by Alicia White, Branch Chief, Nutrition Education and Promotion, Child Nutrition Programs, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition
Aug 02, 2021
Serve Tasty and Healthy Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program infographic
Through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), more than 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks each day as part of the day care they receive. Click this image to view a larger version.

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.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

Write a Response

CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Lisa Seiber-Garland
Mar 14, 2018

I am interested in learning of grants to implement a CACAP supper program in a rural area. Thanks.


Ben Weaver
Mar 15, 2018

@Lisa Seiber-Garland - thank you for your comment. CACFP is a federally-funded program administered by States. You can find more information about the CACFP program including your State contacts here:

Rosa Brown
Mar 14, 2018

I am interested, In attaining a grant for CACFP. Thanks

Azalena Franklin
Jan 09, 2019

This is not a response, I have question about something I was told my question is If a child comes in to your day care after 9:00 am and you give that child Breakfast can you count that child for Breakfast? I have question about something I was told about using the food buying guide. My question is the food buying guide worksheet have meats divided by 1 ounce on it, do we use the 1 ounce amount that's shown on the food buying or do we use 1.5 ounce amount?

Ben Weaver
Feb 05, 2019

@Azalena Franklin - thank you for writing to the USDA. For your first question about being able to claim breakfasts after 9am at your facility, we suggest you contact your CACFP sponsor for assistance related to your specific operations.

The meal pattern posters hyperlinked within your inquiry provide the minimum amounts that must be served for each creditable meal component per age group in order for a meal to be considered reimbursable. Program operators must serve at least the minimum amount required for the meal and age group they are serving. In the poster, 1.5 ounce equivalents of meat/meat alternate are shown for lunch as that is the requirement for ages 3-5. Further information on meal pattern requirements for children can be found here: (PDF, 331 KB). The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs provides information that can be used for purchasing foods that contribute toward the meal patterns and determining how the foods credit toward meal pattern requirements. Food Buying Guide resources may be accessed at: You may also want to contact your CACFP sponsor or State representative for more information.

Thank you for contacting us and we appreciate your dedication to supporting the CACFP!