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Child Care Food Program


The USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) plays a vital role in improving the quality of daycare and making it more affordable for many low-income families. The CACFP serves nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, daycare homes, TrustLine facilities, who participate in after school care programs or reside in emergency shelters. Each day, over 3.2 million children and over 112,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks based on USDA guidelines through the CACFP.


CASH REIMBURSEMENT to participating facilities for serving healthy meals to enrolled children that meet USDA nutritional guidelines. All participants receive nutritious meals and snacks. Participants receive training in nutrition, based on USDA guidelines and education about providing healthy food and healthy eating. CACFP funds are used to cover the costs of food service operations.


Studies and Research

Studies show that children participating in the CACFP receive meals that have higher intakes of key nutrients, have fewer servings of fats and sweets, and are nutritionally superior to meals served to non-participating children. Research cites participation in CACFP as one of the major factors influencing quality care. Of all family child care homes considered to provide good quality care, over 87 percent participate in the CACFP.

The CACFP also makes child care and afterschool programs more affordable for low-income parents who rely on these programs to provide a safe and healthy place for their children


Funding and Responsibility

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administer the CACFP through grants to states. Independent centers and sponsoring organizations enter into agreements with their administering state agencies to assume administrative and financial responsibility for CACFP food service operations.

The National School Lunch Act, as amended, authorizes federal assistance to states that administer the CACFP. States may use the assistance to help start, maintain, and expand non-profit food services for children enrolled for child care in nonresidential institutions.


Day Care Homes

A family or group day care home must sign an agreement with a sponsoring organization to participate in CACFP. Day care home must be licensed, TrustLined and approved to provide day care services. Reimbursement for meals served in day care homes is based upon eligibility for tier I & II rates (which targets higher levels of reimbursement to low-income areas, providers, or children).


Reimbursement in Day Care Homes

Program payments for day care homes are based on the number of meals served to enrolled children, multiplied by the appropriate reimbursement rate for each breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack they are approved to serve. Day care homes may be approved to claim up to two reimbursable meals (breakfast, lunch or supper) and one snack, or two snacks and one meal, to each eligible participant, each day. Sponsoring organizations also receive administrative funds related to the documented costs they incur in planning, organizing, and managing CACFP.
Tier I day care homes are those that are located in low-income areas, or those in which the provider’s household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal income poverty guidelines. Sponsoring organizations may use elementary school free and reduced-price enrollment data or census block group data to determine which areas are low-income.
Tier II homes are those family day care homes which do not meet the location or provider income criteria for tier I home. The provider in a tier II home may elect to have the sponsoring organization identify income-eligible children so that meals served to those children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals would be reimbursed at the higher tier I rates.
A child’s eligibility for tier I rates in a tier II day care home may be documented through submission of a Meal Benefit Form which details family size and income or participation in any of a number of means-tested States or Federal programs with eligibility at or below 185 percent of poverty.


In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online Click Here and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call 866-632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

(2) Fax: 202-690-7442
(3) Email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Funded by the California Department of Social Services Child Care and Development Division and through local grants.
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