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 November 2017 to include: Information on trainings.
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 became effective 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.
California Department of Education
NMP 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
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.
- For family child care providers (Under Revision)
- For child care centers (Under Revision)
CACFP Halftime: Thirty on Thursdays Training Webinar Series
Presented by the USDA, this half hour free, interactive, skill-building Webinars are designed to assist CACFP operators, including day care home providers and sponsoring organizations, with a better understanding of the updated meal patterns. This series is offered on the third Thursday of each month in English from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and in Spanish from noon to 12:30 p.m.
CDE, USDA, and Training Curriculum Resources
The following resources provide supplemental information for the CACFP NMP. Materials include meal pattern comparison charts and summaries of best practices.
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.
- 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.
- Flexibility for Co-Mingled Preschool Meals: Questions and Answers, SP 37-2017
Provides guidance on meals served to preschoolers when they are in the same service area at the same time as grade K-5 students and contains Q&A's.
- Grain-Based Desserts in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, CACFP 16-2017
Provides flexibility with serving grain-based desserts in the CACFP.
- Documenting Meals in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, CACFP 17-2017
Provides guidance on how meals served in the CACFP be documented to demonstrate compliance with the NMP.
- CDE MB - Updated CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements, CNP 06-2017
Provides information on the CACFP NMP compliance dates and resources.
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.
Question: Can a center or day care home rely on the Nutrition Facts Label alone to evaluate a meat alternate, such as a soy burger or tofu sausage?
Answer: When serving processed tofu products (such as links and sausages made from tofu), as meat alternates in a reimbursable meal, the tofu must contain the required 5 grams of protein per 2.2 ounces by weight or ¼ cup by volume. However, the protein content of the additional ingredients in the processed tofu product is also included on the Nutrition Facts Label. Therefore, the Nutrition Facts Label is not sufficient documentation to indicate that a meat alternate like a soy burger or tofu sausage meets the protein requirement. This information would need to be obtained from the manufacturer.
Question: With separate vegetable and fruit components at lunch, supper, and snack in the updated CACFP meal patterns, how do food items that are mixtures of vegetables and fruit, such as a carrot-raisin salad, credit?
Answer: Food items that are mixtures of vegetables and fruits, such as a carrot-raisin salad, may credit towards both the vegetable component and the fruit component if they contain at least ⅛ cup vegetable and ⅛ cup fruit per serving that are easily identifiable. For example, a carrot-raisin salad served to 6 year olds that contains ½ cup carrots and 1/8 cup raisins (credits as ¼ cup fruit) meets the full vegetable component and the full fruit component.
Similarly, vegetable mixtures may count towards the vegetable component and fruit component at lunch and supper if they contain at least 1/8 cup of two different kinds of vegetables. This is because a vegetable can replace the fruit component at lunch and supper meals. For example, a center serves 6 year old children ½ cup roasted broccoli and ¼ cup roasted cauliflower mixed together. The cauliflower is replacing the fruit component and meets the minimum serving size required for the fruit component for children 6-12 years old. However, if the quantities of the different vegetables are not known, such as frozen carrots and peas, the vegetable mixture counts as one serving of vegetables and cannot count towards the fruit component. Another vegetable or fruit would need to be served to fulfill the fruit component.
Question: For adult meals, can yogurt be served in place of milk at multiple meals in one day if the center uses offer versus serve (OVS)?
Answer: Regardless of the type of meal service used, an adult day care center can only serve yogurt in place of fluid milk once per day. The yogurt limitation applies to the served meals, not what the adult participant selects or consumes. It is important to remember that yogurt cannot be counted towards the fluid milk component and the meat alternate component during the same meal. However, yogurt may be served in place of fluid milk at one meal and served as a meat alternate in another meal on the same day.
Question: If an at-risk afterschool center only serves supper and chooses to use offer versus serve (OVS), do all of the grains offered have to be whole grain-rich?
Answer: Yes. If an at-risk afterschool center or adult day care center only serves one meal per day and chooses to use OVS, all the grain items offered must be whole grain-rich. While OVS allows a variety of food items from one component to be served, a center that only serves one meal per day cannot offer one whole grain-rich grain and one enriched grain. This ensures greater consumption of whole grains if a child or adult chooses to take a grain item.
Question: If one year old and two year old children sit together for the same meal, must they be served different types of milk?
Answer: Yes, starting October 1, 2017 children two years old and older must be served unflavored low-fat or unflavored fat-free milk and children one year of age must be served unflavored whole milk. The fluid milk requirements are based on age to ensure that children are receiving the nutrients they need for growth and development. Centers and day care homes must ensure that children of various ages seated together receive the appropriate type of milk.
Question: If a center serves a morning snack to one group of children and an afternoon snack to a separate, different group of children, can juice be served at both of those snack services?
Answer: No. The limit on juice (at no more than one meal or snack per day) applies to the center or day care home, not to each individual child or adult participant. Therefore, if a center or day care home serves two different meals to two different groups of children or adults, only one meal may contain juice.
Question: If a center serves one meal, such as lunch, in two shifts to two different groups of children can juice be served at both meals?
Answer: Yes. Juice must only be used to meet the vegetable component or fruit component at one meal or snack per day. In this situation, the center is using juice to meet the vegetable component or fruit component at one meal. However, in the question above, the center used juice to meet the vegetable component or fruit component at two distinct snacks and that is not allowed under the updated meal patterns.