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Child Care Centers offering meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) play a critical role in supporting the wellness, health, and development of children through the provision of nutritious foods. In particular, child care providers have a powerful opportunity to instill healthy habits in young children that serve as a foundation for healthy choices in life.
CACFP can provide nutritious meals and snacks to infants and children as a regular part of their day care. In Minnesota, only 27 percent of the child care center meals available to low-income children are provided. CACFP reimburses centers at free, reduced-price, or paid rates for eligible meals and snacks served to enrolled children, targeting benefits to those children most in need.
A variety of public or private nonprofit child care centers, Head Start programs, outside-school-hours care centers, and other organizations which are licensed or approved to provide day care services can participate in CACFP. For-profit centers that serve lower income children may also be eligible.
In April 2016, USDA made the first major changes to the CACFP nutrition standards since it began in 1968. The updated nutrition standards went into effect on October 1, 2017. They help safeguard the health of children early in their lives.
The CACFP nutrition standards for meals and snacks served in the CACFP are science-based recommendations made by the National Academy of Medicine, cost and practical considerations, and stakeholder’s input. Under these standards, meals and snacks served include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat.