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CACFP Administrative Manual Section 9.2

Child and Adult Care Food Program Administrative Manual Section 9.2: Preparing Meals.
Important Notice: CACFP Program Moved to CDSS

The Early Childhood Development Act of 2020 (Senate Bill (SB) 98, Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) authorized the transfer of child care and development programs administered by the California Department of Education to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) effective July 1, 2021. The content on this page may not be current and involves the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that has moved to CDSS. Visit the CDSS CACFP web page External link opens in new window or tab. or call 1-833-559-2420 for more information.

Table of Contents
Terms, Definitions, and Acronyms

Section 9: Documenting, Crediting, and Preparing Meals

Section 9.2 Preparing Meals

Centers and DCH providers may use a variety of meal preparation systems, depending on factors such as type of menu desired, budget, and availability of food service equipment, space, and personnel.

Meals may be prepared in one or more of the following ways:

  • On-site (self-preparation)—meals are prepared by center staff or DCH providers, and served at the same location.
  • Central kitchen—meals are prepared by agency staff at a central location and transported to the agency’s centers or homes.
  • Vending—meals are prepared by an SFA, commercial food service vendor, or other private agency, and transported to the agency’s centers or homes. The organization preparing meals must enter into a contract with the agency.

On-site

Meals prepared on-site by center staff are required to be supported by a dated, daily menu. Effective, October 1, 2020, child and adult care centers that were previously required to maintain detailed Menu Production Records (MPR), are only required to maintain menus with serving sizes for each food item for each age group served. At-risk Afterschool Meal programs, emergency shelters, and DCH providers are not required to document serving sizes on menus. Details on menu documentation requirements are provided in Section 9.1, Documenting and Crediting Meals.

Central Kitchen

If meals are prepared in a central kitchen, transport equipment must maintain the appropriate temperature for all food until it is served. Temperature levels must meet the requirements under state or local health laws. Contact your local health department for more guidance.

Centers and DCH providers must maintain transport records to demonstrate that a sufficient quantity of each required meal component is transported from the central kitchen to sites and homes. A sample transport record, Form ID CACFP 66: Sample Transport Record, can be found in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS. Agencies are not required to use this sample form, however, they must maintain the same level of detail on alternative templates.

Meals prepared at a central kitchen are no longer required to be supported with MPRs; the transport record is sufficient documentation, provided that it includes the serving (or scoop) size for each food item for each age group. For more information, refer to Section 9.1, Documenting and Crediting Meals.

Vended Meals

An agency may contract with a food vendor to provide any or all meals. Refer to the CDE Procurement in CNPs web page for more information on complying with procurement standards. Sample vending agreement templates are located in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS:

  • Form ID CACFP 17: Standard Food Service Vending Agreement (Delivery)—used for vending contracts under $250,000
  • Form ID CACFP 19: Invitation For Bid Package—used for vending contracts $250,000 or more
  • Form ID CACFP 20: Month to Month Vending Contract—used for month to month vending contracts

Transport records are required for all meals that are vended. A sample transport record, Form ID CACFP 66: Sample Transport Record, can be found in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS. Agencies are not required to use this sample form, however, they must maintain the same level of detail on alternative templates.

Reporting a Central Kitchen or Food Service Vendor in the CNIPS

If an agency’s meals are prepared in a central kitchen or by a food service vendor, the agency must complete a Vendor/Central Kitchen Information page in the CNIPS for each central kitchen or vendor.

Reference: 7 CFR, sections 226.6(i), 226.15(e)(10), 226.20, and 226.22(c); MB CNP-01-2019 Federal Micropurchase and Small Purchase Thresholds, and MB CACFP-01-2020 Documentation Requirements for the CACFP Meal Patterns

Questions:   Child and Adult Care Food Programs Branch | 800-952-5609, Option 3
Last Reviewed: Monday, June 28, 2021
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