As you may have heard for the last couple of years, the CACFP Meal Pattern was being revised to better match the Dietary Guidelines established by the Institute of Medicine. have been waiting for the proposed rule. This is a big regulation change and therefore was considered carefully over the last two years with input from various stakeholders in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to ensure the new meal patterns provided an opportunity to make the program healthier but still made it manageable for providers who take part in the food program and for those who administer it.
Costs because of any potential changes were a big part of the discussion as USDA did not want to raise barriers or create undo hardships for providers taking part in the program because reimbursement rates were not going to increase along with the meal pattern changes.
With those things in mind, USDA has released a thoughtful proposed rule. Nothing is set in stone. It is imperative you read through this rule, educate yourself and be engaged with guidance from representative CACFP organizations so you can use your voice in the final ruling.
Not sure what it means that the rule is "proposed?" Read "What Is a Proposed Rule" for more information.
What happens now that the rule has been released?
- Read it - know it. It is 92 pages. It is not filled with legalese. There is an executive summary of the main points. Details and reasoning behind the revised rule are throughout the remainder of the document.
- Ask your fellow CACFP community members about questions or clarifications you might have. Keep track of them. Parent? Ask your provider. Provider? Ask your CACFP Sponsor. CACFP Sponsor? Ask your State Rep and the leadership in the CACFP Community - Child Care Food Program Roundtable, National CACFP Forum, and National CACFP Sponsors Association and for states the National Professional Association. Discuss and streamline questions/concerns.
- CACFP Leadership and Representative Organizations will be releasing guidance for commenting providing a summary of the rule as well as template comments for you to modify and personalize. The better you understand the rule yourself, the better you can tailor your comment for your own voice.
Why Do You Want to Be Prepared to Comment?
You want children to be healthier in child care environments but you want to make sure the rules encourage more participation for the providers and administrators not scare them away from feeding the children healthier food because it's "too much" to pay for or to make it worth their while. USDA wants this too. Everyone wants realistic changes to make "a good program better." You're in the field, they need to know that is what they are doing. Comment.
Pumped to Comment?
Stay tuned from ChildCareInfo and other CACFP Community organizations as everyone familiarizes themselves with the rule and provides guidance regarding template comments and clarifications requested.
Comment will be open on Regulations.gov after the rule is published in the Federal Register (which should be this week or early next week). After it's published in the Federal Register, we will have 90 days to provide comment.
Read the Proposed Rule! http://bit.ly/mealpatterns