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CACFP New Meal Patterns

Includes 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.

Overview

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.

Contact Us

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.

Follow @CDENutrition on Twitter.

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 External link opens in new window or tab.
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 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.

Training Workshops, Conferences, and Webinars

In-person Workshops

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.

Online Trainings

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)

Other

CACFP Halftime: Thirty on Thursdays Training Webinar Series External link opens in new window or tab.
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 (PDF) External link opens in new window or tab.
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.

Choose Yogurts that are Lower in Added Sugars (PDF) External link opens in new window or tab.
Provides guidance on choosing yogurts that meet sugar content requirements.

Choose Breakfast Cereals that are Lower in Added Sugars (PDF) External link opens in new window or tab.
Provides guidance on choosing breakfast cereals that meet sugar content requirements.

Serving Milk in the CACFP (PDF) External link opens in new window or tab.
Provides guidance for serving milk to infants, children, and adults under the CACFP NMP.

Training Curriculum

Institute of Child Nutrition CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements Training External link opens in new window or tab.
Provides eight hours of training on CACFP NMP requirements. The materials include a PowerPoint presentation, instructor’s manual, and participant’s workbook.

Policy Guidance

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.

 

FAQs

 

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.

 

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | NMP4CACFP@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 27, 2017
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