Key Changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns

Healthy Food Choices in Schools November 17, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF

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On April 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published the final rule related to meal pattern revisions for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). CACFP centers and day care homes must be in compliance with updated meal patterns by October 1, 2017.

The key changes to the CACFP meal pattern requirements for infants include:

  • The introduction of solid foods is delayed from 4 months of age to 6 months of age (as developmentally appropriate)
  • A vegetable and/or fruit must be served at breakfast, lunch, supper, and snack for infants 6 through 11 months old (as developmentally appropriate)
  • Juice, cheese food, and cheese spread no longer contribute to the meal pattern; whereas, whole eggs are now creditable
  • CACFP centers and day care homes may be reimbursed for meals containing expressed breastmilk or for meals when a mother directly breastfeeds her infant at the child care center or home

The key changes to the CACFP meal pattern requirements for children and adults include:

Greater variety of vegetables and fruit

  • There is a separate vegetable component and a separate fruit component at lunch, supper, and snack
  • Juice may be served no more than once per day

More whole grains

  • At least one serving of grains must be whole grain-rich each day
  • The grain component cannot be fulfilled by grain-based desserts
  • Starting in 2019, ounce equivalents will be used to determine the amount of creditable grains instead of “servings.”

More protein options

  • Meat and meat alternatives may take the place of grains at breakfast up to three times each week
  • Tofu and soy yogurts credit as a meat alternate

Less added sugar and saturated fat

  • Yogurt may not contain more than 23 g of sugar per 6 ounces
  • Breakfast cereals may not contain more than 6 g of sugar per dry ounce
  • Unflavored, whole milk must be served to children 1 year old; unflavored, low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk must be served to children 2 through 5 years old; unflavored low-fat (1%), unflavored fat-free or flavored fat-free milk must be served to children 6 years old and older as well as adults

The updated meal patterns more closely align with the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) meal patterns as well as Women Infant and Children (WIC) guidelines. The meal patterns will help ensure the health of young children and improve the wellness of older adults.


Contributor

Ashley Moen, MS, RD, SNS, Colorado Department of Education 

Sources

United States Department of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Services. (2017). Questions and Answers on the Updated Meal Pattern Requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program. (CACFP 08-2017). Retrieved from https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/cacfp/CACFP08-2017os.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Services. (2017). Updated Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns: Child and Adult Meals. Retreived from https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/cacfp/CACFP_MealBP.pdf 


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.