To be eligible for participation in CACFP, a sponsor must be a licensed or approved child care provider or a public or nonprofit private school which provides organized child care programs for school children during off-school hours. Any child up to age 12 or adult attending a participating adult day care facility is entitled to meals. Programs eligible for participation include non-residential child or adult care institutions such as group or family child care, child or adult care centers, Head Start, recreation centers, settlement houses and after school programs. For profit child care centers serving 25 percent or more low-income children are also eligible.
Participating programs are required to provide meals and snacks according to the nutrition standards set by USDA. The reimbursement rates vary based on the type of meal (lunches have a higher reimbursement rate than snacks), and the type of institution. Child and adult care centers and family child care homes have means-tested reimbursement systems that provide higher levels of reimbursement for low-income families: centers have a three-tiered and homes have a two-tiered reimbursement rate structure. See USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s CACFP Reimbursement Rates. At-risk after-school programs and homeless, domestic violence and runaway shelters are assumed to be serving low-income children and are reimbursed at the highest rate.