It’s CACFP Week! To celebrate, FRAC is joining the National CACFP Sponsors Association for its annual national education and information campaign. That campaign is designed to raise awareness of how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Child and Adult Care Food Program works to combat hunger and bring healthy foods to the table for children in child care homes, centers, and in afterschool and summer feeding programs across the country.
You, too, can get actively involved in this campaign by spreading the word on the importance of CACFP, both in terms of the number of children it serves and its positive impact on young children in child care.
What CACFP Does:
- CACFP uses $3 billion in federal reimbursements to provide nutritious meals and snacks, as well as learning experiences, to 4 million children in child care and afterschool programs.
- The healthy food provided by CACFP, makes a substantial contribution towards meeting the nutritional needs of children in child care, particularly low-income children.
- By paying for nutritious meals and snacks for eligible children enrolled at participating child care centers, family child care homes and afterschool programs, CACFP plays an important role in improving the quality of child care programs and in making them more affordable for low-income parents.
- CACFP assures that children in child care receive good nutrition through ongoing training, technical assistance, and support.
Why CACFP is important:
- Millions of children across the country live in households that struggle with food insecurity. CACFP plays an important role in ensuring children receive the nutrition they need for a healthy start in life.
- Childhood overweight and obesity, an issue that disproportionately affects low-income children, continues to be one of the nation’s most pressing public health problems.
- Nationwide, preschoolers are consuming diets too high in calories, saturated fat, and sweets, and too low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
- Intervening in early childhood and providing high quality child care programming is critically important as lifelong health behaviors are developed during childhood.
How we can reach more children with CACFP:
- Unfortunately, healthy CACFP meals and snacks are out of reach for millions of young children in child care.
- Across the nation, half of the family child care homes operate without CACFP support for healthy meals, and although participation among child care centers has increased, not all eligible children have access to the program.
- In one study, researchers found that 60 percent of randomly sampled, non-participating centers were located in areas where the median household income was below the federal poverty level.
- A well-conceived reauthorization bill, focused on the right program improvements for CACFP, can help to reduce hunger, reduce childhood overweight and obesity, improve child nutrition and wellness, and enhance child development and school readiness.
- Congress can strengthen and expand CACFP, including by allowing an additional healthy meal or snack for children in care and streamlining program operations by reducing for-profit child care center eligibility determinations from monthly to biannually.
Share these CACFP Resources:
USDA has excellent nutrition education materials in English and Spanish available free to all CACFP providers.
For a webinar in English and Spanish on USDA’s materials, please see “New Spanish Nutrition and Wellness Resources for Child Care / Nuevos recursos en