Graham Crackers Will Be Creditable Under New CACFP Meal Patterns

Did you hear?  On June 30th the Child and Adult Care Food Program community broke out into a happy dance after reading the latest USDA Memo "Grain-Based Desserts in the Child and Adult Care Food Program."  I imagine you are wondering, "Why would people be so excited regarding a USDA memo?   And happy excited nonetheless?"

Well, the memo provides "flexibilities" in the service of grain-based desserts in CACFP.  At the end of the day, the memo basically tells us that sweet crackers (i.e. graham crackers and animal crackers) will be a reimbursable grain for CACFP participation under the new meal pattern requirements being implemented in October of 2017.


As part of the new CACFP meal patterns, the requirements child care operators must follow in order to be partially reimbursed for the meals served to children in their care, grain-based desserts were removed as a creditable item for snack or other meals.  The way to determine what counted as "grain-based desserts" is to follow Exhibit A of USDA's "Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs."  Within this Exhibit there are two superscripts, 3 and 4, which indicate the grain-based desserts that are no longer creditable (beginning with the new meal pattern implementation in fall of 2017).

Overall, the CACFP community supported eliminating grain-based desserts as a way to "limit the consumption of added sugars and solid fats as part of a healthy meal pattern."  The community also supported using categories instead of requiring operators to determine creditability by doing calculations of sugar.

HEREIN lies the rub - when USDA was accepting comments for how to handle determining grain-based desserts and choosing to include the exhibit and subscripts spoken of before, the subscripts did not included sweet crackers.  By the time the new meal patterns were written and released, Exhibit A had been updated and then included sweet crackers.

USDA is Listening and It's Benefitting You

After the new meal pattern was released, USDA has been talking to stakeholders, you and those going to bat for you (your associations and advocates), about the meal patterns and barriers to successful implementation.

This is an exemplary instance of action based on those listening sessions.

As a result, USDA has released this memo providing the flexibilities child care operators can continue to serve such things as graham crackers and animal crackers because of respectful discourse about the best way to make the new meal pattern roll out a success.

Click here to read the memo which explains the above in more detail.

Remember to ALWAYS check with your CACFP Sponsor if you are unsure of creditable components.

What do you think?


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