Children’s Council Food Program Facilitates New USDA Nutrition Guidelines
By Franny Wong
Children’s Council Health & Nutrition Manager
The USDA recently revised the Child Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal patterns. Starting October 1, 2017, all child care providers who participate in our Food Program must follow these updated standards to receive CACFP reimbursement. The CACFP meal pattern, which was last updated in 1968, now allows for a wider variety of meat alternatives and calls for whole grains, more fruits and vegetables and lower sugar limits, while also promoting breastfeeding.
These new regulations are a great step forward. At Children’s Council, we are honored to support our child care provider community as they provide the children in their programs with nutritious meals, so they can live healthy and happy lives.
To download a PDF of our Food Program Provider Handbook, including the new guidelines, click here.
If you are a provider interested in joining our Food Program and receiving reimbursements for serving healthy meals, please contact Carmen Chan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concerned that this new meal pattern will mean an increase in costs? Here is a cost comparison chart showing how you can actually save money through implementing this new, healthier meal pattern.
Below is a snapshot of the new regulations.
Developmentally Appropriate Meals:
- Two infant age groups, instead of three: 0- through 5-month-olds and 6- through 11-month-olds
- Solid foods are gradually introduced around 6 months of age, as developmentally appropriate
More Nutritious Meals:
- The combined fruit and vegetable component is now a separate vegetable component and separate fruit component
- Requires a vegetable or fruit, or both, to be served at snack time for infants 6- through 11-months-old
- No longer allows juice or cheese spread to be served
- Allows ready-to-eat cereals at snack time
- At least one serving of grains per day must be whole grain-rich
More Protein Options:
- Meat and meat alternative may be served in place of the entire grains component at breakfast a maximum of three times per week
- Tofu counts as a meat alternative (must be recognizable as tofu)
Lower sugar limits:
- Yogurt must contain no more than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces
- Breakfast cereals must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce
Encourage and Support Breastfeeding:
- Providers may receive reimbursement for meals when a breastfeeding mother comes to the child care home and directly breastfeeds her infant
- Only breastmilk and infant formula are served to infants 0- through 5-months-old
For more details, click here for the infant meal pattern (Spanish, Chinese), or here for the child meal pattern (Spanish, Chinese).
If you want to learn more about the new meal pattern, check out the Association for Child Development website, which offers trainings, shopping guides and summaries. Another good resource is from Let’s Move Child Care. Curious to see where you are at with your transition? Take the new CACFP Meal Pattern Self-Assessment.
Children’s Council is here to help all providers in our Food Program through this transition. As always, we encourage you to reach out to us for support!