Centers and day care homes 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. Child care providers, in particular, have a powerful opportunity to instill healthy habits in young children that serve as a foundation for healthy choices in life.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, USDA made the first major changes in the CACFP meals and snacks since the Program’s inception in 1968, which will help ensure children have access to healthy, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. The updated CACFP nutrition standards will help safeguard the health of children early in their lives.
These improvements are expected to enhance the quality of meals served in CACFP to help young children learn healthy eating habits early on in their lives and improve the wellness of adult participants. CACFP centers and day care homes may continue to comply with the current meal standards as they transition to the updated meal standards. However, all aspects of meals served through the CACFP must meet the updated standards no later than October 1, 2017.
Under the updated CACFP nutrition standards, meals and snacks served will include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat. In addition, the standards encourage breastfeeding and better align the CACFP with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and with other Child Nutrition Programs.
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