Food Program Meal Pattern Implementation Resources

“Change before you have to.” ~ Jack Welch

You’ve heard the buzz.  The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Meal Pattern has been improved to help us serve children healthier meals in our programs.  We need to begin following these new standards by October 1, 2017.  Have you thought about the changes you need to make in order to meet new food program standards?

Change is hard but when done little by little, it can be a little less overwhelming. It’s the beginning of April, why not begin choosing one pattern that has changed and implementing it into your program?

Whether you are a child care provider or a CACFP Sponsor, there are materials listed below to give you some guidance of where to begin.  And providers - always check with your CACFP Sponsor to make sure you are on the same page for reimbursable meals.


Association for Child Development has put together a lengthy list of resources available in both English and Spanish to be used by any program who finds it worthwhile.  These include:

  • The New Meal Pattern Self Assessment:  Grab your weekly menu and take the assessment to help you prepare for a successful transition to the improved meal pattern.
  • Menu Makeovers: This provides you with three example meals and snacks containing side by side comparisons of what a menu would look like prior to the October 1 date and what a reimbursable meal would look like after the October 1 date.  
  • Grain-Based Dessert Fact Sheet - this sheet displays what is considered a grain-based dessert and why they are no longer a reimbursable item on the food program.
  • New Meal Pattern Shopping Guide - as you implement your healthier menus, shopping may have to change for you.  This small and easy to carry and use guide helps you shop according to these news changes.

And there are more - Including a breakfast cereal guide, whole-grain rich guide, yogurt guide and using the new CACFP meal patterns to lower costs!  Check them out here.


Looking to see what other states are doing? has compiled state agency information and trainings.

Don’t forget about materials USDA will be providing, including further guidance and policy memos.

Are you slowly but surely trying new things to be ready for implementation? What's your plan? Share in the comments below.


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