Providers - Commenting is So Important, Here's Why

You've heard about the CACFP Meal Pattern Proposed Rule.  You know what it is.  You know you should comment but you're still unclear about why.  Aside from the incredible opportunity it provides us to have a voice in the democratic process, you must understand the impact that people in other communities can have on the meal pattern - that you will have to abide by to be a part of the food program.

Communities that have an interest in child health and wellness are commenting on this rule, organizations that don't understand the nuances of operating a child care and serving food in these settings on the food program.

Many Many Others Are Commenting That Don't Understand Your Role

For example, as a concerned parent, I would hands down say no flavored milk or yogurt and get rid of the grain-based desserts as a credible food.  I also might recommend allowing no fried foods at all. I, however, am not taking into consideration the 13 other children in care and what it is like to service all of their needs coming from different at-home experiences.  I also am not considering the importance of education and recommending best practices vs disallowing meals based on regulation made regarding the CACFP Meal Pattern Requirement. Nor am I taking into account the financial impact that other recommendations would have on the provider.  Other people are doing just this - a lot of them.

Some Do Understand - Especially You

As a person who works closely with the CACFP Community, I understand that the program does not need to be managed through penalties to be successful in creating healthy child care environments for the children. I understand that through nutrition education and help implementing best practices, providers can be successful making changes to their meal service through encouragement and training. That providers inherently want to do what is best for the children in their care.  

Making changes to the meal patterns that would force providers off of the program hurts everyone - especially the children.

There are hundreds of people commenting, with the best of intentions for a child's health, but not understanding the whole picture.  USDA MUST read and analyze ALL comments. Make sure USDA hears you.

Protect Your Role

Please comment so USDA can understand you.  You are the one participating in the program and feeding the children, nobody has a better perspective than you.

All you have to is add your name Click here

Here is the text of the model comment for providers.

Dear Ms. Namian:  I use the food program to support good nutrition.  I urge USDA to avoid increasing the record keeping burden and the risk of losing meal reimbursements for providers.  These are my recommendations:

  • Keep the current option to serve two vegetables for lunch.

  • Sugar limits on flavored milk and yogurt are not worth the trouble.

  • Don’t eliminate cheese and yogurt for 6-11 month old infants.

  • Allow flexibility at infant snack time: formula and cereal or a fruit/vegetable

  • An on-site frying ban will be hard to understand. USDA will need a clear definition of frying as “deep fat frying: submerging food in hot oil” and stir frying and sautéing is allowed. 

  • Drop the proposed option to substitute meat for cereal/bread at breakfast.  Instead, keep the option to add meat or a meat alternate to breakfast.

The new requirements should be assessed during on-site monitoring reviews and not through auditing menus.  Providers need support and technical assistance not the threat of losing much needed meal reimbursements. Child care providers already report that the reimbursements are not enough to cover the costs of the meals and snacks.  In summary, I understand the importance of good nutrition but urge USDA to allow flexibility and to avoid complexity and cost. 

It is Time to Send in Your Comments:

  1. Copy the comment text provided above (be sure you copy only the comment text).
  2. Go to!submitComment;D=FNS-2011-0029-0001    
  3. Paste the comment text you selected into the “Comment” box.
  4. Enter your name and contact information in the designated boxes.
  5. Just click “Submit” and you are done. 

*post modified with new link 4-7-2015


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