Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for Homes

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a U.S. federal assistance program. Although this meal reimbursement and nutrition education program largely provides aid to children and adult institutions, it also sends help for family day care homes. Anyone who is on the CACFP have their nutritional needs supported on a daily basis. Currently, an estimated 3.3 million children and 120,000 adults receive nutritional meals and snacks through the program every day.

Who Can Participate in the CACFP?

There are many different types of agencies that can take full advantage of the CACFP:

Child Care Centers. This includes public or private non-profit child care centers, Head Start, and others that are licensed to provide day care services. The meals served are based on each child's eligibility for free or reduced/paid meals.
Afterschool Programs. These sites are community-based and they at-risk and low-income children and youth who are 18-years-old and younger.
Day Care Homes. Any private home can participate as long as they are approved.
Adult Day Care Centers. Public and private non-profit facilities can use the CACFP. It is provided to the functionally impaired or to those who are 60-years-old or older.
Emergency Shelters. These shelters have to meet the health and safety codes given by their respective state in order to participate. Those who are eligible can receive reimbursement for up to three meals per day for those 18-years-old or younger. They must be providing residential and food services to children and youth experiencing homelessness.

How it Works for Homes

As long a private day care home is licensed, registered, or approved to provide care, it can participate in the CACFP. Since this targets low-income areas to address those most in-need of assistance, the cost of day care is lowered, making it easier for lower income families to afford it.

Eligibility Requirements for Homes

In order to receive CACFP, a private home must be licensed or approved as a legitimate day care. These homes must also sign an agreement with a sponsoring organization. The reimbursement given is based according to Tier I or Tier II rates.

Tier I are those either in low-income areas or the household itself has an income at or below 185 percent of the Federal income poverty guidelines. For Tier II rates, they don't typically meet the criteria of Tier I. Instead, they can use a sponsoring organization to determine income-eligible children.

Types of Meals Served

Those receiving CACFP follow the guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Here is a general example of what is served:

• Breakfast: Milk, vegetables and/or fruit, and grains (e.g. cereal or bread products).
• Lunch & Dinner: Milk, meat or meat alternates, vegetables, fruits, and grains.
• Snack (2 of the following): Milk, meat or meat alternates, vegetables, fruits, grains

Note that for homes, they may be approved to claim up to two reimbursement meals (breakfast, lunch or supper) as well as one snack per participant each day. Or, a home can claim two snacks and only one meal per day.

Children and adults share similar meal patterns. Juice has a limit of being served once per day. As for milk, non-dairy substitutes that have a nutritional value equivalent to milk can be served to those with dietary or medical needs. For adults only, they can substitute yogurt in place of milk once a day.

Meal patterns have become a bit more diversified across the ages for children. There are age-appropriate meals served in order to address the needs of those between the ages of 13 and 18.

Concerning infants, they, of course, have a special meal pattern. A reimbursement can still be given when mothers come into the home to directly breastfeed. Also, both breast milk and infant formula are only served to babies that are 0-5-months-old.

Likewise with children, meals are further broken down according to age groups. There are two designated for infants: 0-5-months-old and 6-11-months-old.

Infants also see some restrictions in what they can be served. Juice is prohibited as well as cheese food. Solids are to be introduced on a gradual basis starting at 6-months-old.

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