Continuing to Celebrate CACFP

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May is a month for celebration. First and foremost – each year it’s the time we celebrate the hard work and dedication child care providers put into growing the next generation. This year, the community has an additional reason to celebrate as May marks the 50th birthday of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The CACFP is a federal child nutrition program that supports family child care providers, faith-based and community-based child care centers, and after school programs as they serve millions of children healthy meals and snacks across the United States. In 2017, 4.4 million children and 2.05 billion meals and snacks were served through the CACFP.

Nemours Children’s Health System and the National CACFP Forum have partnered to celebrate this important milestone. Beginning with a call for pictures from the CACFP community to create a large mosaic birthday card to take to Capitol Hill and joining with Kaplan to provide a few gifts to some lucky winners who submitted a healthy celebration photo.

Now, to continue the celebration we are sharing with you some success stories and resources from Healthy Kids, Healthy Future, a collaboration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Nemours Children’s Health System. Healthy Kids, Healthy Future continues the work of Let’s Move! Child Care, supporting early education providers in helping children get a healthy start to life. Healthy Kids, Healthy Future is a nationwide call-to-action that empowers child care and early education providers to make positive health changes in children that could last a lifetime, including supporting the healthy growth and development of children in your programs through the CACFP.

We enjoyed hearing from providers and sponsors about how CACFP helps them take a variety of approaches to healthy eating. One of the best practices that participants in the CACFP are encouraged to do is serve family style meals. Serving meals family style has many benefits for children including the creation of a healthy eating environment that is responsive to children’s hunger and fullness cues while allowing children to practice social and motor skills. CACFP-sponsoring organizations provide technical assistance for this and Nemours Children’s Health System has created a guide to help providers implement family style meals, the Family Style Dining Toolkit.

One of the submissions from the CACFP photo contest highlights children practicing family style dining and having a healthy celebration.
One of the submissions from the CACFP photo contest shows children practicing family style dining. Children take turns portioning their own food and participating in child-focused conversation to build peer-to-peer interaction.

Be sure to check out the Healthy Kids Healthy Future website to find state resources for early care and education programs on new meal pattern guidelines for CACFP – all in one place. Take the New CACFP Meal Pattern Self-Assessment and see how your program is measuring up to the new standards. Find additional resources on topics such as:

  • Sample menus
  • Infant meal patterns and breastfeeding
  • Vegetables, fruits and juice
  • Grains
  • Meat, meat alternates and dairy
  • Milk and other beverages
  • Food preparation