USDA's Team Nutrition Releases Provider Handbook for CACFP and Food Research Action Center (FRAC) Offers Webinar About It

First of all, I personally am really excited about this handbook.  It has been a long time coming for there to be an actual connection, instead of just the implied one, that participating on the Child and Adult Care Food Program means more than just getting reimbursed for foods.  The handbook is called "Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program."

You, the child care provider, want to provide the best service to your clients as well as give the little ones the best start to their journey through life.  You are creating a healthy and beneficial environment for the children in your care and this handbook helps you make it even better!  Rather than just providing rules and theories about what you should be doing, you have gotten access to this Handbook full of tip sheets ranging from "Building Healthy Plates" with typical food types like fruits and veggies to addressing areas of food preparation that we might not all know that much about such as fats and oils or using less salt and sodium.

Secondly, you should all sign up for the Food Research and Action's (FRAC's) webinar which will have USDA representatives going through the Handbook with you.  You can also ask questions and express your opinion in a survey.  Click here to register NOW.  It is on January 24th at 2:00 pm, EST.

What's This Handbook All About?  The Quick Run Through.
Audience:  This handbook is meant for child care environments for the 2-6 year old child
Tip Sheets: The Tip Sheets are for several main categories and you can see what they are in the table of contents in the "Introduction" or even just on the website.  You can download the short version of each tip sheet.  In these tips sheets you can expect to find the following categories:

  • Highlighted bullet points: this will give you some bullet points and general information of the type of food or topic that the Tip Sheet is covering
  • What types of [insert food type] should I offer?
  • How can I serve [insert a main difficulty with finding or serving the food in a healthy manner.  For example with fruits it's w/out added sugars and with veggies it is low in sodium and solid fats]
  • How can I encourage kids to eat [insert type of food]
  • Connect with Parents and the Community: provides links for parent education and farm to child care information
  • How Can I Keep [insert food type] safe?
    • choking
    • clean
    • preparation and storage
  • Activities
    • How can I put this information into practice?
  • CACFP crediting tip:  Make sure you...

Depending on the Tip Sheet Food Topic there might be additional information!  They are visually pleasing and easy to work through and understand.  Here are the Tips Sheets for Milk through Food Safety.

The Limiting Screen Time and Active Play Tip Sheets are equally as helpful, easy-to-read and implement.  Some of the headings you'll find:

  • How much time should be planned for active play every day?
  • What types of active play opportunities should I offer?
  • How can I help children be physically active every day?
  • Activities: How can I add more active play in  my child care program?
  • Why is it important to encourage active play?
  • What should I do to encourage active play?
  • Activities: What are some specific ways I can encourage active play every day in my child care program?
  • Promote Active Play through Written Policies and Practices
    • Why are written policies that promote physical activity important?
    • What types of physical activity policies and practices should I have?
    • What is an example of a written policy on physical activity?
    • Activities: How can I implement policies and practices that promote physical activity?
  • Limit Screen Time
    • How much screen time should children be allowed every day, both at child care and at home?
    • How much screen time should children be allowed while in child care?
    • Why do we need to limit screen time use?
    • Activities: How can I put this information into practice in my child care program?

The final section Food Safety and Resources/Best Practices provides you tools of just that.  It's fun to read the success stories of the Best Practices section.  Child Care Environments doing neat things, just like you!

Download parts or all of it, print out parts or all of it.  Learn a lot or refresh your memory.  Give it to parents so that they know that what you are doing is amazing.  Don't forget...attend FRAC's webinar on the 24th of January!


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