Learning about CACFP, IOM and Meal Requirements

What is the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)?
As described by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), it is a program that "supports the nutrition and health of the nation’s most vulnerable populations—infants, children, and impaired or older adults." (IOM)

As described by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC): "The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) pays for nutritious meals and snacks for eligible children who are enrolled at participating: Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes, Afterschool Programs, and Homeless Shelters" (FRAC).

What are some of the benefits of the CACFP?  According to FRAC:

  • CACFP reflects quality child care, 87 percent of the homes considered to be providing quality child care were enrolled on the CACFP;
  • Children receive meals of high nutritional value; and
  • In comparison to children in child care facilities not on CACFP, children have "higher intakes of key nutrients, fewer servings of fats and sweets" (FRAC).

Meal Requirements?

The CACFP has meal requirements that participating facilities must meet in order to be reimbursed.  You can find thosehere.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) asked the IOM to make recommendations for some changes to the meal requirements of the CACFP and align them with the Dietary Guidelines.

The IOM considered these things when they made their recommendations:

1. consistency with current dietary guidance and nutrition recommendations;
2. provide the basis for menus that are practical to plan, purchase, prepare, and serve in different settings;
3. provide the basis for menus that incorporate healthful foods and beverages and are appealing to diverse age ranges and cultural backgrounds;
4. facilitate the planning of menus that are compatible with the capabilities and resources for the variety of program providers; and
5. allow the planning of menus that are sensitive to considerations of cost.

Want to know more about the recommendations?  Check out their CACFP 2010 Detailed Information sheet.  If you want to view the publication about the IOM recommendations click here!

For more information about the CACFP in your state, click here and find your states CACFP home page!


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 ChildCareInfo.com 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 ChildCareInfo.com.