Meal Patterns and Nutrition Resources

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

USDA revised the CACFP meal patterns to ensure children and adults have access to healthy, balanced meals throughout the day. The changes made were based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, scientific recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine, stakeholder input, and cost and practical considerations. Under the revised meal patterns, meals served will include more whole grains, less saturated fat, a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, and less added sugar.

USDA has updated their CACFP Nutrition Standards web page with great resources on the current meal pattern.


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 Meal Patterns (Effective October 1, 2017)

 Meal Documentation and Calculation Tools

Combination Foods

Meal and Milk Calculators

  • CACFP Milk Calculator (XLSX, 29 KB)
  • Meal Component Calculation Workbook (XLSX, 36 KB)
  • Non-Dairy Beverage Milk Substitutions
    • Non-Dairy Tool - The CACFP Non-Dairy Tool is currently unavailable. It is being updated to reflect the new FDA Daily Values (DVs), which go into effect July 26, 2020. Some companies are already using the new percentages on their package labels, which results in inaccurate values when nutrients are entered in the Non-Dairy Tool. Please send any questions related to allowable non-dairy beverages to the CACFP training team. We are happy to research any specific products to see if they meet the guidelines for non-dairy beverages.
    • Potentially Allowable Non-Dairy Beverages

Meal Pattern Menu Checklists

Menu Planning Tools

 Seasonal Cycle Menus

The CACFP Seasonal Menus are designed to inspire programs to use seasonal, locally grown foods when possible. The menus are four-week cycle menus with a breakfast, lunch/supper, and snack. Menus are customizable and contain links to standardized recipes. Your institution can start implementing these healthy seasonal menus in your adult or childcare facility today!

The CACFP Seasonal Menus:

  • Meet the NEW CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements
  • Select healthy meal options
  • Offer seasonal and local foods
  • Promote NC agriculture
  • Utilize standardized recipes
  • Offer variety

 USDA Policy Memos Related to the Meal Patterns

For additional Meal Pattern resources, visit our Resources page.

Last Modified: May 10, 2019