Tribal Participation in the CACFP and the SFSP
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 or call 1-833-559-2420 for more information.
Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
|Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information|
To: Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program Sponsors
Number: USDA-CACFP-01-2013, USDA-SFSP-01-2013
Attention: Food Program Director
Date: January 2013
Subject: Tribal Participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service Policy Memorandum CACFP 18-2012 and SFSP 14-2012, and Policy Memorandum 01-1999; Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 226.6 (d)(3) and (4); National School Lunch Act Section 17(a)(1)
This Management Bulletin (MB) intends to clarify California policies regarding tribal participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). It includes Questions and Answers that address potential barriers to participation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) consulted with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Child and Families and found that some tribal child care facilities continue to face specific difficulties that may discourage participation in the CACFP. Native American and Alaska Native children have approximately twice the levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and food insecurity compared with other U.S. children of similar ages. Therefore, it is especially important that tribal child care programs have access to the federal Child Nutrition Programs (CNP).
In order to identify and reduce barriers that tribal child care programs face for participation in the CACFP, the California Department of Education (CDE) is routinely participating in quarterly Tribal/State/Federal Child Care and Development Fund Collaboration meetings. The CDE will transmit further guidance as additional issues are addressed and resolved.
Questions and Answers
- Is direct funding to tribes available in the CACFP and the SFSP?
No. The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, the statute that authorizes the CACFP and the SFSP, allows the USDA to provide funding only to states to administer the programs. The programs are administered within California by the CDE.
Child and adult day care centers may participate in the CACFP as independent centers or under the auspices of a sponsor. Day care homes (DCH) are required by CACFP regulations to have a sponsor. The independent center or sponsor enters into an agreement with the CDE to assume administrative and financial responsibility for CACFP operation.
In the SFSP, feeding sites operate under a sponsor. As in the CACFP, the sponsor enters into an agreement with the CDE to assume administrative and financial responsibility for the SFSP meal service at the sites.
- Can the CACFP or the SFSP be administered at the tribal level with Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Regional Office oversight?
No. As noted above, the FNS administers the CACFP and SFSP only through grants to states. In the CACFP and SFSP, sponsors and independent day care centers must enter into an agreement with the CDE in order to participate.
- Are tribes eligible to act as sponsors for DCHs and centers?
Yes. Public or non-profit private organizations that accept responsibility for the administration of the food program in DCHs and child care centers may apply to be a CACFP sponsor. The CDE encourages tribal authorities to contact the CACFP to sponsor DCHs and/or centers.
- How are tribal governments eligible to participate in the CACFP and SFSP?
In determining whether an institution is eligible to participate in the CACFP or SFSP, the tribal government is recognized as a “public entity” or “local government.” Thus, a tribal government may be a CACFP sponsor of DCHs or centers and may sponsor SFSP sites assuming other eligibility requirements are met. With regard to independent child care centers, for purposes of the CACFP, an independent center that is directly administered by the tribal government is also considered a “public entity” or “local government.”
- Are tribes that apply to act as a CACFP sponsor required to demonstrate financial viability, administrative capability, and program accountability?
Yes. Tribes applying to act as a CACFP sponsor must meet the application requirements described in Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), Section 226.6(b). This includes demonstrating compliance with the performance standards. Similarly, tribes applying to act as an SFSP sponsor must meet the application requirements as described in 7 CFR, Section 225.6(c).
- Are tribes eligible to sponsor SFSP sites?
Yes. Any public or private non-profit that accepts financial and administrative responsibility for program operations at the sponsored sites may apply to be an SFSP sponsor. The CDE encourages tribal governments and authorities to work with the CDE to sponsor SFSP sites.
- When a child care center is licensed by a tribe, is the CDE required to accept the tribal licensing for purposes of CACFP participation? Or can the CDE require that the center meet state licensing requirements?
A child care center or DCH located on a reservation or on other lands over which a tribe has jurisdiction may be licensed or approved by the tribe. This is considered “local licensing or approval” as required by 7 CFR, Section 226.6(d). In order to be acceptable, the CDE may require that the tribal licensing or approval standards, at a minimum, meet the standards developed by the HHS. For more information please visit the HHS Minimum Standards for Tribal Child Care Web page at
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/occ/resource/minimum-standards-for-tribal-child-care-a-health-and-safety-guide [Note: the preceding URL is no longer available].
- Some tribal lands cross state lines. Can a sponsor in the CACFP or SFSP operate in multiple states?
Yes. However, sponsors must enter into separate agreements with the CACFP or SFSP through the responsible state agency in each state where they sponsor child care centers or DCHs or operate independent centers through the CACFP or sponsor sites through the SFSP.
- What is the relationship between Head Start and the CACFP?
All Early Head Start and Head Start grantees and their delegate agencies are required to participate in the CACFP according to the Head Start Regulations in Title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1304.23(b)(1)(i). Children enrolled in Head Start are automatically eligible for free meals and snacks, including free milk, offered through any of the CNPs administered by the FNS, without further application or eligibility determination as stated in 7 CFR, Section 226.17(b)(8).
Due to the variety of sizes and structures of Head Start grantees, they may participate in the CACFP in several ways. Some grantees are independent centers that work directly with the state, and others participate in the CACFP through a sponsor. Some may serve as a sponsor for delegate agencies and child care partners. In the cases of tribal Head Start grantees, the grantee or the tribe receives CACFP funding from the state and each tribe decides how they will manage the food program for Head Start and other child care programs. More information about the Head Start program is available on the HHS Office of Head Start Web page at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs.
- What is the relationship between the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and the CACFP?
While child care programs that serve CCDF children are not required by statute or regulation to participate in the CACFP, many CCDF children are also eligible for CACFP participation. Programs serving CCDF children can participate in the CACFP as independent centers that enter into agreements directly with the CDE or through a sponsor that assumes administrative and financial responsibility for CACFP operations. DCHs, however, are required by CACFP regulations to have a sponsor. More information about the CCDF is available on the HHS Office of Child Care Web page at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/occ.
- What is the difference between the adult day care component of the CACFP and the Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs?
The adult day care component of the CACFP is administered by the FNS and provides reimbursement for meals served to elderly and functionally impaired adults participating in adult day care programs. The purpose of the adult day care component of the CACFP is to provide nutritional support to enable elderly and functionally impaired adults to remain in the community, either in their own home or in the home of a family member, guardian, or other caregiver, and avoid premature institutionalization.
The HHS Administration on Aging provides grants to support nutrition services to older people throughout the country. These programs are intended to improve the dietary intakes of participants and make community-based services available to older adults who may be at risk of losing their independence. More information is available on the Administration on Aging Nutrition Services Web page at https://www.acl.gov/programs/health-wellness/nutrition-services.
While the purpose of the two programs is similar, they are funded by different federal agencies and have different requirements.
- Are traditional Native American foods (e.g., fresh grown fruits and vegetables, hunted game, and fresh fish) allowable under the CACFP or SFSP?
It depends. In all cases, food safety is paramount. Meat and meat products must be USDA inspected in order to be allowable in the CACFP and SFSP. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has mandatory inspection authority over all food products from cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules, and other equines, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, guineas, ratites (emu, ostrich, and rhea), and squab. Additionally, the FSIS does voluntary inspection of reindeer, elk, deer, antelope, water buffalo, bison, migratory water fowl (birds that swim such as ducks and geese), game birds, and rabbits.
Fresh grown fruits and vegetables and freshly caught fish are allowable in the CACFP and SFSP if these foods meet the policies of the state or local public health agency regarding food safety. For these purposes, a tribal public health agency would be considered to be a local public health agency.
- If the USDA determines that a traditional Native American food is not allowable under the CACFP or SFSP, may the tribe still serve the food outside of reimbursable meals, or in addition to the reimbursable meal?
Yes. The CACFP and SFSP only require that meals meet the minimum meal pattern requirements. Additional foods may be served either with the reimbursable meal, or outside the CACFP meal service. However, these foods must be served in addition to, not in place of, the required components of the meals. They may not be purchased with CACFP or SFSP funds.
- If a tribe member receives per capita income distributions each year, are these payments considered income for purposes of the federal CNP?
Payments in amounts less than $2,000 annually are not considered income when determining individual income eligibility for the CNPs.
The Indian Tribal Judgment Funds Use of Distribution Act states that “per capita payments shall not be considered as income or resources [or] otherwise utilized as a basis for denying or reducing the financial assistance or other benefits to which such household or member would otherwise be entitled under the Social Security Act or, except for per capita shares in excess of $2,000, from any federal or federally assisted program.”
Sponsor Eligibility for the Child and Adult Care Food and/or Summer Food Service Programs
Tribal authorities interested in participating in the CACFP can visit the CDE CACFP Eligibility, Guidance, Manuals, and Resources Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/cc/mgmb.asp.
Tribal authorities interested in participating in the SFSP can visit the SFSP Information Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sf/sfspinfo.asp.
If you have any questions about participating in the CACFP, contact the Community Nutrition Programs Administration Office Technician by phone at 800-952-5609, Option 3.
If you have any questions about participating in the SFSP, contact the Summer Meals Unit by phone at 916-324-6153 or by email at SFSP@cde.ca.gov.