CACFP New Meal PatternsIncludes the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) new meal patterns (NMP), upcoming workshop and conference information, Webinars, resources, frequently asked questions (FAQ), and policy guidance for CACFP sponsors.
On April 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the final rule for the CACFP NMP. The NMP aligns with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reflects evidence-based nutrition science, and includes stakeholder comments to the proposed rule. The NMP standards are effective October 1, 2017. This Web page was updated as of July 2017 to include: Information on the CACFP Roundtable 2017 Annual Conference; USDA policies; and helpful new resources for sponsors.
For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division CACFP team by e-mail at NMP4CACFP@cde.ca.gov.
The New Meal Patterns (NMP)
Child Nutrition Program operators participating in the CACFP, National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), including CACFP centers and day care homes (DCH), school food authorities, and SFSP sites serving children under six years of age, must comply with the updated meal pattern requirements no later than October 1, 2017.
If you are viewing this Web page prior to October 1, 2017 and would like information on the current CACFP meal patterns, please visit the CDE CACFP Web page.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Guidance
USDA Nutrition Standards for CACFP Meals and Snacks
This Web page includes extensive NMP information, including fact sheets, charts comparing the current meal pattern and NMP, the final rule, current policy, and much more.
The New Meal Patterns
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has provided the following reference charts describing the NMP requirements for infants, children, and adults respectively.
Meal Pattern for Infants (PDF)
Provides the NMP for infants ages birth through 11 months. (Effective October 1, 2017)
Meal Pattern for Children (PDF)
Provides the NMP for children ages 1 through 18 years old. (Effective October 1, 2017)
Meal Pattern for Adults (PDF)
Provides the NMP for adults in adult DCHs and centers. (Effective October 1, 2017)
Meal Pattern Comparisons
The USDA FNS has provided the following double-sided flyers to highlight updates and improvements made to the meal patterns. The flyers are available in both English and Spanish.
Meal Pattern Summary for Infants, English (PDF) and
Meal Pattern Summary for Infants, Spanish (PDF)
Compares the NMP for infants, ages birth through 11 months, to the current meal pattern for infants. (NMP effective October 1, 2017)
Meal Pattern Summary for Children and Adults, English (PDF) and
Meal Pattern Summary for Children and Adults, Spanish (PDF)
Compares the NMP for children, ages 1 through 18, and adults in adult DCHs to the current meal pattern for children and adults. (NMP effective October 1, 2017)
Training Workshops, Conferences, and Webinars
In spring 2017, the NSD offered free, in-person workshops on the CACFP NMP requirements that will go into effect October 1, 2017. Workshops were held in ten cities statewide and included nearly a thousand attendees. Participants learned about the changes made to the infant, child, and adult meal patterns; the appropriate crediting of meals; and the additional resources available. The workshop series was a great success!
Please routinely check the CACFP NMP Web page for information on upcoming 2017–18 CACFP NMP workshops and additional e-learning offerings.
CACFP Roundtable 2017 Annual Conference
This conference provides valuable workshops on up-to-date CACFP and child care news and trends, as well as opportunities to network with other child care professionals, experts, and policy experts. It will be held in Olympic Valley, California, October 23–25, 2017. To sign up for this conference, visit the CACFP Roundtable 2017 Annual Conference Registration Information Web page.
California Department of Education Webinars
The CDE NMP Recorded Webinar Series - Coming soon!
Provides specifics on the changes made to the CACFP NMP requirements, including information on nutrition, portion sizes, appropriate crediting, calculations for sugar content in cereal and yogurt, and much more!
CACFP NMP Milk Requirements Webinars
Reviews topics related to milk requirements, including the type and amount of milk that is allowable, the nutritional value of different types of milk, allowable nondairy milk substitutes, medical statements, and changes in the NMP related to milk.
New Healthier CACFP Meal Standards: What You Need to Know
Presented by the Food and Research Action Center and the USDA, this 1.5-hour Webinar provides information and training on the updated CACFP NMP requirements for infants, children, and adults.
CDE, USDA, and Training Curriculum Resources
The following resources provide supplemental information for the CACFP NMP. Materials include technical assistance flyers, meal pattern comparison charts, and summaries of best practices.
California Department of Education Resources
Technical Assistance for Early Implementation Flyers
Provides CACFP agencies with information on the early implementation of breastfeeding onsite, yogurt in place of milk for adults, and tofu and soy yogurt as meat alternates, which are in effect April 3, 2017, to October 1, 2017. The flyers are available in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System . The form names are CACFP NMP Tip Sheet 1, CACFP NMP Tip Sheet 2, and CACFP NMP Tip Sheet 3.
For more information on the subject, including who can use early implementation and how to use it, please refer to the CDE Management Bulletin CNP-03-2017, Early Implementation of the Updated CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements and the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program Infant and Preschool Meal Patterns.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Resources
Meal Pattern Comparison Chart for the Child Nutrition Programs
Compares meal pattern requirements for CACFP, School Meal Programs, Kindergarten through grade twelve Afterschool Snack, and Summer Food Service Program.
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has provided the following double-sided flyers describing best practices for the CACFP NMP and using the NMP to lower food costs.
- Best Practices for CACFP NMP Requirements, English (PDF)
Best Practices for CACFP NMP Requirements, Spanish (PDF)
Provides additional steps day care homes (DCH) and centers can take to further improve the nutritional quality of the meals they serve.
- Using the Updated Meal Patterns to Lower Costs, English
Using the Updated Meal Patterns to Lower Costs, Spanish (PDF)
Provides tips DCHs and centers can use to save money using the NMP.
Choose Yogurts that are Lower in Added Sugars
Provides guidance on choosing yogurts that meet sugar content requirements.
Choose Breakfast Cereals that are Lower in Added Sugars
Provides guidance on choosing breakfast cereals that meet sugar content requirements.
Serving Milk in the CACFP
Provides guidance for serving milk to infants, children, and adults under the CACFP NMP.
Institute of Child Nutrition CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements Training
Provides eight hours of training on CACFP NMP requirements. The materials include a PowerPoint presentation, instructor’s manual, and participant’s workbook.
The USDA has issued the following policy memoranda related to the CACFP NMP. Below is a brief summary of each memorandum and related CDE management bulletins (MB), if applicable.
- Early Implementation of the CACFP NMP Requirements, SP 42-2016, CACFP 14-2016
Provides guidance on early implementation of the CACFP NMP requirements and the new infant and preschool meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP).
For information on early implementation for California Child Nutrition Program Operators, please refer to the CDE MB CNP-03-2017, Early Implementation of the Updated CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements and the NSLP and the SBP Infant and Preschool Meal Patterns.
- Questions and Answers on the Updated Meal Pattern Requirements for the CACFP, CACFP 08-2017
Provides questions and answers (Q&A) across many categories associated with the CACFP updated meal pattern requirements, including unique meal and snack scenarios, tips, and resources. Highly recommended reading!
- Transition Period for Updated CACFP, Infant, Preschool Meal Patterns, SP 30-2017, CACFP 13-2017
Provides sponsors with information regarding a one-year transition period during which they can adjust to NMP requirements without state agencies imposing fiscal action.
- Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk and Fluid Milk Substitutions in the CACFP, Q&As, CACFP 17-2016
Provides guidance on new fluid milk and nondairy fluid milk substitution provisions.
- Water Availability in the CACFP, CACFP 20-2016
Provides guidance on procedures for making water available to children in the CACFP.
- Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products, SP 53-2016, CACFP 21-2016
Provides guidance on crediting for tofu and soy yogurt products for schools and the CACFP.
- Feeding Infants and Meal Pattern Requirements in the CACFP; Q&As, CACFP 06-2017
Provides guidance on infant feeding and mealtimes, including the length of time refrigerated breast milk may be stored, updates on creditable infant formulas, allowable infant foods containing docosahexaenoic acid, known as DHA, and FAQs.
- Fruit and Vegetable Requirements in the CACFP; Q&As, CACFP 09-2017
Provides CACFP fruit and vegetable requirements, including information on how to credit fruit and vegetable mixtures.
- Grain Requirements in the CACFP; Q&As, CACFP 02-2017
Provides CACFP grain requirements, including information on choosing whole grain-rich foods.
- Offer versus Serve (OVS) and Family Style Dining in the CACFP, CACFP 05-2017
Compares OVS and family style meal service and contains FAQs and answers.
- Optional Best Practices to Further Promote Nutrition in the CACFP Meal Pattern, CACFP 15-2016
Provides optional best practices for child care centers and DCHs to implement and further promote nutrition in the CACFP.
Question: What is early implementation?
Answer: Early implementation refers to the opportunity for Child Nutrition Program (CNP) operators to practice using the updated meal pattern requirements prior to October 1, 2017. As of April 3, 2017, California CNP operators may choose to implement any, all, or none of the following three allowances—and only the following three allowances—beginning April 3, 2017:
- Reimbursing infant meals when the mother breastfeeds on-site
- Counting tofu and soy yogurts as a meat alternate
- Allowing yogurt to be used once per day to fulfill the fluid milk requirement for adults in adult day cares
CACFP operators cannot be denied reimbursement for these allowances, even if performed or documented incorrectly, prior to October 1, 2017.
For additional information on early implementation, please refer to USDA Policy Memorandum SP 42-2016, CACFP 14-2016 Early Implementation of the CACFP NMP Requirements .
For information on early implementation for California CNP operators, including who can use which allowances and how to begin implementation, please refer to the CDE Management Bulletin CNP-03-2017, Early Implementation of the Updated CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements and the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program Infant and Preschool Meal Patterns.
Question: When submitting menus for review, do centers and day care homes (DCH) need to document which grain foods are whole grain-rich (WGR)?
Answer: Yes, starting October 1, 2017, centers and DCH must document when a food is WGR on their menu and may do this by using terms such as whole grain-rich, WGR, whole wheat, or simply listing a whole grain. For example, a menu may say: peanut butter and jelly sandwich on WGR bread, whole wheat pasta and chicken, or brown rice and vegetables. Common and usual names for whole grains that are helpful to know and can be used to identify WGR foods on menus are:
- The word whole listed before a grain, such as whole wheat or whole corn;
- The words berries and groats are used to designate a whole grain, such as wheat berries or oat groats;
- Rolled oats and oatmeal (including old fashioned, quick cooking, and instant oatmeal); and
- Other whole grain foods that do not use the word whole in their description, such as brown rice, brown rice flour, wild rice, quinoa, millet, triticale, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, and sorghum.
- It is the responsibility of the sponsor to check labels and product information to ensure that the WGR items being served meet the WGR criteria presented in this memorandum. The State agency will review documentation during the administrative review.
Question: If a DCH serves breakfast and snack and a grain is served at both breakfast and snack, but neither of the grains are WGR, which meal is disallowed?
Answer: The snack would be disallowed. This is because the snack is the meal with the lowest reimbursement rate that contained a grain. Conversely, if a grain was not served at snack and the grain at breakfast is not WGR, then the breakfast meal would be disallowed. In that situation, the breakfast meal is the meal with the lowest reimbursement rate that contained a grain.