Partnerships and Change, Change and Partnerships: The CACFP Leadership Conference

As the leaders of the Child and Adult Care Food Program met this week, there were two common themes while we discussed CACFP’s Roadmap to a Healthy Future. 


There is impending change, which can sometimes be synonymous with impending doom.  Not knowing can be the worst part.

There is impending change, which can sometimes be synonymous with impending doom.  The CACFP community is waiting to hear about the proposed rule for the meal pattern requirements.  When is it coming? What will it contain?  

This change has been talked about since the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report aligning the CACFP to dietary guidelines in 2010.  That's kind of a long time to be waiting for a change you know is coming.  While the leadership has an idea of some of the meal requirement changes based upon the IOM recommendations there are several challenges they are anticipating.  Some of these challenges might be:

  • Provider and parent education
  • Children not liking the food (for example requiring the provider to serve whole grains)
  • Cost of food or equipment to prepare the different type of food
  • Update of the Food Buying Guide to reflect the recommended or required changes
  • Striking a balance between serving nutritious meals and integrity issues (especially during the training period)
  • What challenges do you see as you look ahead to the meal pattern changes?

How do we deal with this change?As long as we focus on our client, the child, we’ll be able to see through the muck and successfully reach our end goal.

Even though it will be almost impossible to avoid visiting the Valley of Despair through our roadmap to a healthy future, Linda Simmons, says it won’t be long before we climb out of it and offer the “gold standard” of child nutrition in child care environments.  She provided four great necessary pitstops as we drive forward…

  • Control how fast you go down that road. I.e. control the rate of change
  • Form Groups…no man is an island. 
  • Make short term goals...this makes the long term goal not seem impossible to reach. 
  • Have ceremonies to reward the hard work and accomplishments that have been attained.

Blake Stanford recommended we keep our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road. (Which is also a Doors lyric).    He says, as long as we focus on our client, the child, we’ll be able to see through the muck and successfully reach our end goal.

No Man Is An Island.  No Sponsor Is An Island Either.

Partnerships: No Man Is An Island.  No Sponsor Is An Island Either.

Tell the Your Local Community What The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Has to Offer

The Child and Adult Care Food Program can offer even more than nutritious meals for children in child care environments to its community.  This was apparent when Tom from Action for Children in Illinois was told us about going to public health meetings, city council meetings and local events.  Opportunities present themselves.  For example, Tom’s agency was a part of a childhood obesity education by the public health department because the official that was running the program met Tom at a local meeting and learned that Tom and his monitors had access to providers, parents and children. Not only did they have access, but they were trusted.  2,200 providers had childhood obesity prevention trainings because Tom was out in the community making partnerships, creating relationships.

5 Sponsors in the State of Colorado Join Together to get $250,000 Grant in conjunction with the Public Health Department

The CACFP Sponsors United for Health shows us that partnerships with the public health department are important as well as sponsors statewide working together to accomplish something greater than themselves.  With this grant these sponsors will create a parent toolkit, provide workshops, and consider how providers in food deserts can get access to bulk purchasing through the schools in their district.

A Reporter Writes a Story You Liked or Want to Commend Them on?  Tell Them.

Much like the congressmen at the lunchtime plenary discussing the importance not letting your first contact with a representative’s office be when you are asking something of them, reporters feel the same way.  Kirsten from FRAC shares that reaching out to your local reporters even when you don’t want their interest in a story is a key to being notices further down the road.  Establish a relationship and when we want them to give our story some attention they may pay more attention than the random that sent them a generic press release.

Higher Education Institution Can Partner With You

Bessie Tart Wilson Initiative For Children worked with the Harvard Law Food and Policy Clinic to do research on the Child and Adult Care Food Program in Massachusetts.  I don’t really have to say much else do I?  It’s Harvard.  It’s good to have a respected 3rd party providing research results that you can refer to as you advocate for different parts of the program. 

No Program Is An Island Either. 

Most likely people in need of the many different nutrition programs can benefit and qualify for more than one. Let’s make sure we are making those important partnerships with our local food banks, SNAP administrators, WIC administrators and the many different food programs that can help people get nutritious meals.  

Some ideas...

Get flyers from your local food banks or SNAP and give some them to your providers.  The provider may know some parents who could use some help.  They could avoid a potentially embarrassing conversation by simply providing a flyer in the materials sent home with the child or put it in their newsletter.

Maybe some food bank representatives are talking to the people in line at a food distribution and learn that a family has a child that could benefit from CACFP suppers at an after school program or they are just keeping their head above water, have a child in child care but they are required to provide the child food.  The food bank rep could share that CACFP child care environments do not need provide food for the child, nor do they have to pay for the provider to serve the child.

Partnerships and Change, Change and Partnerships.  They seem to go hand-in-hand with the success of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  What do you think?


Samantha Marshall, M.A.

Samantha is, just like you, excited to make a difference in our community and our world. With a Master of Arts degree in English Literature, you might ask how she found herself building and writing for a website focused on child care. From 1995 through 2001, Samantha started her career working for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors which introduced her to the importance of non-profits, community and quality child care. Her experience with Sponsors, State Officials, and Family Child Care Providers left a great and lasting impression. Later in her career and her most recent position at SAGE Publications, an academic publisher, was as a product manager for a new online resource! During this time many of Samantha's passions collided. A love for the written word, children and the proliferation of knowledge as well as a fascination with the resources the internet gives us, building a community for child care on is the perfect way to make the difference she wanted to. Needless to say, she is very excited to be an active part of creating and building