The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) runs a NYS Department of Health program which supports providers. It pays child care providers a part of the money they spent to serve nutritious snacks and meals to the children in their care. These meals must meet the nutritional standards set up by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
As a CACFP sponsor the Child Care Council:
- Helps providers plan healthy meals
- Teaches providers to encourage healthy eating habits in children
- Provides on-site nutritional training and technical assistance
- Offers free nutritional workshops that count toward NYS Office of Children and Family Services state required training hours
- Helps providers follow program requirements
- Child Care Centers (including Head Start)
- School Age programs serving children through age twelve
- Family Child Care Homes that are licensed, registered or legally exempt from licensing
- Community based adult day care centers
- After school programs providing educational or enrichment programs for low income children up to nineteen years of age
- Homeless shelters providing meals to children living with a parent or guardian in the shelter
Benefits to the Child
Food habits are caught rather than taught. CACFP offers lifetime benefits. The preschool years are when eating patterns and habits are being established. This may determine the quality of diet throughout life. Children who are in day care with providers who participate in CACFP are given the chance to enjoy healthy foods.
Benefits for Parents
Parents know that their children will be served healthy meals. The child is more likely to be healthy, happy and develop at a normal physical, emotional and intellectual pace.
Benefits for the Child Care Provider
Providers receive important nutrition education that helps them know the right foods to feed children in amounts appropriate for these young age groups. They receive help through personal visits from CACFP staff in understanding how to help children make healthy choices for their meal and snack foods. This creates positive eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Benefits for the Community
Because of CACFP, federal tax money is invested in the health of children in the community. This helps to keep child care costs down. Since providers taking part in the program are monitored, they are more likely to follow state child care regulations.