Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

CACFP Administrative Manual Section 9.1

Child and Adult Care Food Program Administrative Manual Section 9.1: Menu Planning and Preparing Meals.

Table of Contents
Terms, Definitions, and Acronyms

Section 9: Documenting, Crediting, and Preparing Meals

Section 9.1 Documenting and Crediting Meals

This section outlines menu documentation and crediting requirements when serving meals through the CACFP.

Menu Documentation for Infants

All CACFP Operators serving infants ages 0 through 11 months through the CACFP must:

  • Maintain daily meal records for each infant for all meals and snacks claimed for reimbursement.
  • Document the type of infant milk offered, (i.e., breastmilk, iron-fortified infant formula, or a combination of both).
  • Document the name of all solid foods offered when infants are developmentally ready to accept them (e.g., carrots, 1 Tablespoon).
  • Document the quantity of expressed breastmilk (served from a bottle) or iron-fortified infant formula offered, and the quantity of all solid foods offered regardless of the age of the infant (day care home [DCH] providers are exempt from these requirements.) 

The California Department of Education (CDE) developed a sample template, Individual Infant Meal Record (Form ID CACFP 32), in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) External link opens in new window or tab., that CACFP Operators can use to meet the requirement of maintaining daily meal records for each infant.

Menu Documentation for Children and Adults

This section applies to CACFP Operators serving children ages 12 months and older and adults.

Menu Production Records (MPR) are no longer required, effective October 1, 2020.

All CACFP Operators must:

  • Maintain a daily, dated menu listing the food items served to meet the CACFP meal patterns requirements. Refer to the CACFP Meal Patterns Charts External link opens in new window or tab. to determine the component requirements for meals and snacks.

  • Document on the menu, for each age group, the fat content of all types of milk served, (e.g., whole, 1 percent [low-fat], fat-free [nonfat or skim], and whether each milk type is unflavored [plain] or flavored).

  • Document on the menu at least one food item per day which meets the criteria for whole grain-rich (WGR) on each day the grains component is served.

  • Maintain receipts and invoices for purchases to substantiate the items and quantities listed on the menus (DCH providers are exempt).

In addition, all centers except at-risk afterschool programs and emergency shelters must maintain daily, dated menus listing the food items served and the serving sizes of each food item for all age groups and for all reimbursable meals and snacks served. The serving size may be stated by weight (e.g., 2 ounce), by volume (e.g., ½ cup), or by number (e.g., 2 slices or 2 pieces). Refer to the CACFP Meal Patterns Charts External link opens in new window or tab. to determine the minimum serving size for each component and each age group.

The requirement for menus with serving sizes can be met by maintaining one of the documents listed below.

  • CDE Daily Menu with Serving Sizes for Multiple Age Groups template (Form ID CACFP 89) or CDE Weekly Menu with Serving Sizes for One Age Group template (Form ID CACFP 90), accessible in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS External link opens in new window or tab..

These templates include instructions, a sample completed menu with serving sizes, and a template for agencies to electronically complete.

  • CACFP Operator-developed menu with serving sizes per age group

CACFP Operators that choose to develop their own menu template to fulfill the menu with serving sizes requirement are required to document the menu for each meal and snack served and the serving size of each food item for each age group served.

  • CDE Agency MPR—Centers (Form ID CACFP 28) or CDE Agency MPR—Adult Day Care Centers (Form ID CACFP 78) accessible in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS External link opens in new window or tab. .

CACFP Operators that choose to continue to use the MPR to meet the requirement for a menu with serving sizes are only required to complete the two columns titled Menu and Serving Size (for each age group served). All other columns on the MPR are optional. The CDE developed instructions (Form ID CACFP 28A for child care centers, and Form ID 78A for adult care centers), accessible in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS External link opens in new window or tab. , to assist CACFP Operators with completing the MPR.

  • Transport Record

CACFP Operators who receive vended meals can continue to use the CDE Sample Transport Record (Form ID CACFP 66), accessible in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS External link opens in new window or tab., or their own transport record template to fulfill the requirement for a menu with serving sizes. As a reminder, all fields must be completed, including the serving size or scoop number sizes for bulk foods.

CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements

In addition to maintaining daily, dated menus with the information outlined in the prior section, CACFP Operators must also maintain documentation that demonstrates compliance with the CACFP meal patterns during a CACFP administrative review (AR). Guidance on meal pattern documentation that must be maintained by CACFP Operators is provided in the CDE Management Bulletin (MB) CACFP 01-2020, Documentation Requirements for the CACFP Meal Patterns.

Guidance on how long meal pattern documentation must be maintained and an overview of the CACFP AR process as it relates to demonstrating compliance with the CACFP meal patterns, is provided in Section 16, AR Process for Compliance with the CACFP Meal Patterns in the CACFP Administrative Manual.

Crediting Requirements

All foods served as part of reimbursable meals and snacks in the CACFP must be creditable toward the CACFP meal patterns. The resources in this section are used to determine whether food items and products are creditable in the CACFP meal patterns and how food items, food products, and recipes credit toward the CACFP meal patterns.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Crediting (USDA) Resources
USDA Food Buying Guide

The USDA Food Buying Guide (FBG) for Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) External link opens in new window or tab. provides crediting information for over 2,100 food items and is the primary resource used to determine whether a food is creditable and how food items credit to the meal pattern. This resource also includes an FBG Calculator tool to determine how much of a food item to purchase in order to provide the minimum serving size required for the number of participants served at a meal. This resource also has a Recipe Analysis Workbook (RAW) tool to determine the contribution that one serving of a recipe contributes to the meal pattern.

USDA Exhibit A: Grains Requirements for CNPs Table

The USDA FBG does not include crediting information for many commercially prepared grain products that include a Nutrition Facts label, such as frozen waffles and tortillas, because these items contain ingredients in addition to grains (for example, sugar, oil, and water) that do not credit to the meal pattern.

To credit these grain products, CACFP Operators can use the USDA Exhibit A: Grain Requirements for CNPs table External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF). The USDA online and mobile application versions also include an Exhibit A Grains Tool to determine crediting for commercially prepared grain products that include a Nutrition Facts label.

USDA Crediting Handbook for the CACFP

The USDA Crediting Handbook for the CACFP External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) is a supplementary resource to the USDA FBG and contains information on whether many food items and products are creditable toward the CACFP meal patterns. However, often additional information is needed to determine how the food credits toward the meal pattern requirements. For example, deviled eggs are listed as creditable in the Crediting Handbook since whole eggs are creditable in the CACFP; however, the weights of the added ingredients (for example, relish and mayonnaise) cannot contribute to the meal pattern requirements and a recipe is required (calculated manually or by using the USDA FBG RAW tool) to determine the amount of whole eggs in one serving that can credit toward the meal pattern.

Industry Crediting Resources

The USDA FBG does not contain crediting information for:

  • Food items that contain ingredients such as byproducts, cereals, or binders/extensions, such as beef and veggie patties and lunch meat.

  • Commercially processed combination food products that credit toward more than one meal component, such as pizza, lasagna, and chicken nuggets.

To credit these food products to the meal pattern, CACFP Operators must obtain a Child Nutrition (CN) Label or a manufacturer’s Product Formulation Statement (PFS) to claim these food items and products for reimbursement in the CACFP. 

Child Nutrition Labels

CN Labels are included on the product’s packaging. CN Labels are issued to food manufacturers by the USDA and provide assurance that the food provides the stated contributions toward meal pattern requirements as listed on the CN Label. They are only issued for entrée dishes that contribute to the meats/meat alternates component.

The USDA CN Labeling Program is optional. For more information, including a list of authorized labels and manufacturers, access the USDA CN Labeling Program External link opens in new window or tab. web page.

Product Formulation Statements

A PFS provides crediting information for processed products that do not have a CN Label. A PFS is a signed, certified document that allows manufacturers to demonstrate how a product contributes to the meal pattern requirements. A PFS must be signed by a company representative which may not be a salesperson. To determine if a product has a PFS, contact the manufacturer. The product packaging will contain the telephone number or mailing address.

The USDA developed PFS samples and templates that can be used as a guide for manufacturers. These resources can be found on the USDA Food Manufacturers/Industry External link opens in new window or tab. web page.

Additional Crediting Resources:
Questions:   Kayla Christensen | kchristensen@cde.ca.gov | 916-324-6153
Last Reviewed: Thursday, September 24, 2020
Related Content
  • CACFP Administrative Manual
    A guide to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) critical compliance standards for centers and day care home (DCH) sponsors.
  • CACFP Eligibility, Guidance, Manuals, & Resources
    The most recent child care center, day care home, and adult day care sponsor eligibility materials, guidance, manuals, and resources needed for proper administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • CACFP Manual Terms, Definitions, and Acronyms
    Child and Adult Care Food Program Administrative Manual Terms, Definitions, and Acronyms.
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program
    This web page includes background information, steps on how to apply, the Administrative Manual, meal pattern requirements, claiming information, policy guidance, compliance, trainings, resources, and contacts for program operators.
  • How to Apply to the CACFP
    Information on how to begin the application process for the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Trending in Nutrition
No Trending items
Recently Posted in Nutrition
  • New Off-Site Monitoring Best Practices Fact Sheets (added 03-Dec-2020)
    California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division is pleased to share eight best practices fact sheets for conducting off-site monitoring of Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Now in Spanish: Multicultural Child Care Recipes (added 03-Dec-2020)
    The California Department of Education is pleased to inform you that the following resource from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Team Nutrition (TN) is now available in Spanish.
  • CDFA Seeking Public Comment on Farm to School RFA (added 30-Nov-2020)
    The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Office of Farm to Fork (F2F) is now seeking public comments regarding the 2021 Farm to School (F2S) Incubator Grant Program’s Request for Applications (RFA).
  • USDA Proposed Rule on Meal Flexibilities (added 30-Nov-2020)
    On November 24, 2020 the federal code of regulations was updated to restore the 2012 meal pattern guidelines and the USDA announced a proposed rule to reinstate those meal pattern flexibilities that were just vacated.
  • Tip Sheet: CACFP Meal Service During COVID-19 (added 24-Nov-2020)
    The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division has created a new tip sheet to assist Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Operators who are conducting meal service during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  • Use of FRPM Data for Funding Purposes 2020–21 (added 24-Nov-2020)
    This letter provides guidance to Local Education Agencies on the use of Free and Reduced-Price Meal (FRPM) applications for meal eligibility and funding purposes during the 2020–21 school year.
  • FRMP Requirements School Year 2020–21 (added 24-Nov-2020)
    Attachment to the Use of FRPM Data for Funding Purposes letter. Provides requirements for collecting free and reduced-price meal eligibility data used to determine supplemental and concentration grant funding based on meal program type.
  • COVID-19 Required Reporting CNP Assessment (added 20-Nov-2020)
    The USDA requires assessment information on the effectiveness of the waivers in providing improved services to program participants. The CDE NSD is requiring that program operators complete the CDE COVID-19 CNP Waivers Assessment survey.
  • 2020–21 CACFP Mandatory Training (added 20-Nov-2020)
    Announcement for the 2020–21 Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Mandatory Training.
  • Annual Sponsor Verification Report for 2020–21 (added 20-Nov-2020)
    On November 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended the School Food Authority (SFA) deadline to complete verification to February 28, 2021.