Child and Adult Care Food Program: Farm to CACFP
What is Farm to CACFP? Why is It Important?
Farm to CACFP includes any facility that incorporates local foods through meals and snacks, lessons, taste tests, farmer and farm stand visits, and/or community and parent involvement. Eating locally produced foods and providing opportunities for nutrition education can lead to:
- Increased participation and engagement in meal programs
- Consumption of healthier options
- Support of local economies
Farm to Preschool Toolkit by Growing Minds: This comprehensive toolkit includes sourcing guidance, preK lesson plans, “This Week in the Garden” activity guides, and “Farm to School Goes Home” weekly newsletters and more!
Farm to Child Care Toolkit by Wake County Smart Start: This toolkit helps child care centers and family day care homes put Farm to Child Care into action. Toolkit includes where to purchase local produce, menu planning, activities for the classroom, resources for kitchen staff and classroom staff, and ways to engage parents and families.
Farm to Childcare - NC State Extension: Find links to Childcare Production Gardens publication series, including Growing and Cooking Fruits and Vegetables at Childcare Centers, Creating Childcare Production Gardens, Snacking and Cooking with Warm and Cool Season Produce, Composting, and Vermicomposting in Childcare Production Gardens.
Early Sprouts: Children learn to grow, harvest, and prepare nutritious seasonal produce in this seed-to-table curriculum centered around a working garden. Online training, including a new module on Active Play Every Day, cookbooks, and a free monthly newsletter are available.
Grow It, Try It, Like It: A garden-themed nutrition education kit for child care center staff that introduces children to fruits and vegetables. Each set of lessons contains: hands-on activities, planting activities, and nutrition education activities that introduce MyPlate. Includes fun parent/child activities and family-sized recipes that give tips for cooking with children.
Harvest of the Month Curriculum: This Farm to Preschool Curriculum was developed at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College. The curriculum includes 9 months of lessons; each month features four weeks of hands-on activities and lessons including cooking activities translated into Spanish.
Multicultural Collection of Farm to ECE Books: These books cover a wide variety of farm to ECE related topics including gardening, farms, cooking, family meals, famers markets, and shopping for food. Books feature characters from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups; list includes bilingual and Spanish books for young children.
Preschool Lesson Plans from Growing Minds: Exploring local foods and farms with your young learners doesn’t have to be challenging! These preschool lesson plans are an easy way to build connections between the outdoor environment and the classroom while introducing children to new vegetables and fruits.
Reach for the Stars with Farm to Preschool: Did you know that Farm to Preschool programming can enhance a child care center’s star ratings? This resource helps child care centers and family child care homes integrate Farm to Preschool activities into their curriculum while addressing the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS). Farm to preschool activities are listed along with the ECERS subscale, items and indicators.
Farm to ECE Webinars
- Farm to CACFP: Getting Started with Local Foods: This pre-recorded webinar provides tips and resources for getting started with local foods in childcare facilities. Registration
- NC Cooperative Extension Service: Use this link to locate the Cooperative Extension office in your county. An agent there can assist with gardening or purchasing local food.
Just for Cooks
- NC Fresh Produce Purchasing and Prep Guides: These user-friendly guides calculate how much fresh produce to purchase and prepare to meet the CACFP meal pattern minimum required serving sizes. Just plug in how many children are in each age group (1-2 years, 3-5 years, and 6-18 years), and the tool will calculate how many pounds of various types of produce to buy and serve.
- Best Practices for Handling Fresh Produce in Schools handout.
- Cooking Local Foods videos from NC State Extension. Video lessons including knife skills, thermometer basics, cooking eggs, and various cooking methods.
- Donated or Harvested Food Record (PDF, 159 KB)
- North Carolina CACFP Seasonal Menus: Four-week cycle menus featuring seasonal, local produce, with links to delicious, CACFP-approved standardized recipes.
Where to Find Local Foods
What’s in Season? This colorful chart shows North Carolina fruit and vegetable availability by month
North Carolina Farm Fresh: A directory of pick-your-own farms, roadside farm markets, and farmers markets throughout North Carolina. It is designed to help the consumers find the freshest locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs.
USDA’s National On-Farm Market Directory lists markets managed by a single farm operator that sells agricultural and/or horticultural products directly to consumers from a location on their farm or on property adjacent to that farm -- there are 53 North Carolina farms listed here!
CACFP Regulations for Purchasing Local Foods
- Local Foods for Little Eaters: A purchasing toolbox for the Child and Adult Care Food Program
- CACFP Policy Memo CACFP 01-2016: Procuring Local Meat, Poultry, Game and Eggs for Child Nutrition Programs
- CACFP 11-2015: Local Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program
- 2018 National Survey on Farm to Early Care and Education
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Last Modified: 03-01-2022