Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federally funded program which is administered and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The purpose of the program is to ensure that eligible children and adults who attend qualifying non-residential care facilities receive nutritious meals.
To accomplish this purpose, CACFP provides reimbursement to qualified caregivers for meals and supplements (snacks) served to participants. While the FNS develops the regulations and establishes the policies needed to conduct the program, state agencies are responsible for administering the program on the State level and for assisting sponsors on the local level.
Congress established the Child Care Food Program in 1968 to ensure children in licensed or approved daycare centers, settlement houses, and recreation centers were receiving nutritious meals. The program initially targeted needy areas that had large numbers of working mothers and provided limited reimbursement for public or private nonprofit institutions.
Ten years later, in November 1978, Public Law 95-627 made the Child Care food Program permanent expanding it to cover all public or private nonprofit institutions or sponsored facilities, licensed or approved to care for children. Expanded coverage included child care centers, outside-school-hours care centers, family and group day care homes, and institutions providing day care for the handicapped.
In August 1981, Public Law 97-35 added private for-profit facilities receiving Title XX, Social Security Act, compensation if at least 25 percent of the children enrolled at each center in each calendar month were Title XX beneficiaries. The law also permitted eligible non residential child day care institutions to receive children reimbursement for feeding children 12 years of age and younger and set the age for children of migrant workers at 15 years or younger. This law further expanded the program to include mentally or physically handicapped persons, regardless of their age, who were enrolled in an institution or facility caring for a majority of children 18 or younger.
In November 1987, following passage of the Older Americans Act, new amendments allowed for participation by selected adult day care centers in the Child Care Food Program. The addition of an entirely new age bracket prompted a new provision in the Program and led in January 1990 to the name change to the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
In 1998, Public Law 105-336 authorized CACFP reimbursement for snacks to children through age 18 in "At-Risk" afterschool centers. "At-Risk" centers are defined as afterschool programs located in the attendance area of a school where at least 50 percent of the enrolled children are eligible for free or reduced price meals. The law also consolidated benefits for homeless children, enabling public or private nonprofit emergency shelters which provide residential and food services to homeless families to participate in CACFP. Eligible shelters were authorized to receive reimbursement for serving up to three meals each day to homeless children who reside there. Unlike most other CACFP facilities, a shelter does not have to be licensed to provide day care. It must, however, meet any health and safety codes that are required by state or local law.
Last Modified: October 5, 2018