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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, online courses, 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 became effective October 1, 2017.This Web page was updated as of May 2018 to include: Information on additional USDA policies.

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

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.

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.

In-Person Workshops, Online Courses, and Conferences

To assist program operators with the implementation of the NMP, below are training opportunities via the following:

In-Person Workshops

Online Courses

Conferences

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!

The NSD is offering more in-person workshops in the spring 2018. The workshops are intended for sponsors participating in the CACFP and those that serve infants and preschoolers through the NSLP, SBP, and the Summer Food Service Program. Registration is limited to two attendees per agency. Sponsors should register for only one session in the location of their choice. The scheduled CACFP NMP workshop locations and dates are listed below.

To register for a CACFP NMP workshop, please follow these steps:

Step 1 is to access the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) Training Registration Web Page External link opens in new window or tab.. Instructions for registration can be found on the CDE CNIPS Training Registration Web page.

Step 2 is required for CACFP operators that would like to fulfill the 2017-18 CACFP Mandatory Training Requirement and receive a Certificate of Completion. After receiving CACFP NMP registration confirmation e-mail from CNIPS, access the Fresno City College (FCC) California Professional Nutrition Education and Training (Cal-Pro-NET) Center Web page External link opens in new window or tab. to register for the NMP through their system.

On the FCC Cal-Pro-NET Center Web page:

  • You must create an account if you do not already have one. To create one, select Manage Your Account from the right menu bar and follow the instructions.

  • Select Register for a Course and enter your user name and password, and the select CACFP New Meal Pattern 2017-18 Mandatory Course. Make sure you select the correct date and location of the workshop you plan to attend. You will receive an e-mail verifying your registration. Please review carefully and call the FCC Cal-Pro-NET Center at 559-489-2237 if you need assistance.

After attending the workshop, you will receive an e-mail from FCC Cal-Pro-NET Center with instructions on how to print your certificate of completion.

In-Person Workshop Schedule
Location Dates
Oakland Wednesday, May 9, 2018
San Diego Tuesday, May 22, 2018
San Diego Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Workshop schedules are subject to change. The CDE will notify registrants by phone and e-mail of schedule changes.

Online Courses

California Department of Education

NMP Series

The series will cover various aspects of the NMP. After selecting the course, you will be directed to the course Web page and be asked to enter your information. This information will be used to generate a Certificate of Completion for your records. You will also be asked to complete a short evaluation.

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. 

Conferences

This section will be updated as conference opportunities come up.

CDE, USDA, and Institute of Child Nutrition 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 External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
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.

CACFP Recipes External link opens in new window or tab.
The USDA Mixing Bowl developed new recipes that are compliant with the CACFP NMP, which includes crediting information. These recipes are culturally diverse! To accommodate all types of CACFP agencies, the recipes are portioned for family homes as well as larger agencies.

USDA Team Nutrition CACFP Meal Pattern Training Tools External link opens in new window or tab.
The USDA TN developed materials for CACFP operators and sponsors to implement the CACFP NMP. Some materials include:

Food Buying Guide External link opens in new window or tab.
The USDA Food Buying Guide (FBG) for Child Nutrition Programs is now an online interactive tool. It has been updated to reflect the NMP. It can help with purchasing the required quantities of foods, and help determine the contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements.

  • Food Buying Guide Mobile App External link opens in new window or tab.
    The USDA developed a mobile app for the FBG. The FBG is now within the reach of your fingertips. Use it to compare yield information or create a favorites list of the food items that are commonly purchased. The app is available on iOS and Android platforms.

  • Food Buying Guide - PDF External link opens in new window or tab.
    The USDA FBG is available to download and/or print as a PDF.

Institute of Child Nutrition

Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) - Education and Training Resources External link opens in new window or tab.
The ICN developed resources for participants in the CACFP. Some useful resources include fact sheets, posters, sample menus, and much more.

Policy Guidance

The USDA has issued the following policy memoranda related to the CACFP NMP. You can find the policy memoranda on the USDA CACFP Policy Web page External link opens in new window or tab.. Below is a brief summary of each memorandum and related CDE Management Bulletins (MB), if applicable.

Release Date

Issuing Agency

Subject

Reference Number

April 2018 USDA Grain Requirements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program; Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 09-2018
October 2017 USDA Feeding Infants and Meal Pattern Requirements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program; Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 02-2018
October 2017 USDA Updated Infant and Preschool Meal Patterns in NSLP and SBP; Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: SP 01-2018
June 2017 USDA Grain-Based Desserts in the Child and Adult Care Food Program External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 16-2017
June 2017 USDA Flexibility for Co-Mingled Preschool Meals: Questions and Answers External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: SP 37-2017
June 2017 USDA Documenting Meals in the Child and Adult Care Food Program External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 17-2017
October 2017 CDE Clarification on Documenting Meals in the Child and Adult Care Food Program CDE Management Bulletin: CACFP-07-2017
September 2017 CDE Updated CACFP Meal Pattern Requirements CDE Management Bulletin: CNP-06-2017
May 2017 USDA Transition Period for Updated CACFP, Infant, Preschool Meal Patterns External link opens in new window or tab.

USDA Policy Memorandum: SP 30-2017,
CACFP13-2017

March 2017 USDA Vegetable and Fruit Requirements in the CACFP; Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 09-2017
March 2017 USDA Questions and Answers on the Updated Meal Pattern Requirements for the CACFP External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 08-2017
December 2016 USDA Offer versus Serve (OVS) and Family Style Dining in the CACFP External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 05-2017
August 2016 USDA Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: SP 53-2016,
CACFP 21-2016
September 2017 CDE Crediting Tofu and Soy Yogurt Products in the Child Nutrition Programs CDE Management Bulletin CNP-09-2017
August 2016 USDA Water Availability in the CACFP External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 20-2016
July 2016 USDA Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk and Fluid Milk Substitutions in the CACFP, Q&As External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 17-2016
September 2017 CDE Nutrition Requirements for Fluid Milk and Fluid Milk Substitutions in the CACFP CDE Management Bulletin: CACFP-09-2017
June 2016 USDA Optional Best Practices to Further Promote Nutrition in the CACFP Meal Pattern External link opens in new window or tab. USDA Policy Memorandum: CACFP 15-2016

 

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.

Please note, though, that FNS provided a transition period for the updated CACFP meal patterns for Fiscal Year 2018 (October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018). Please see CACFP 13-2017, Transition Period for the Updated Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns and the Updated National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs’ Infant and Preschool Meal Patterns External link opens in new window or tab.. During the transition period, if a State agency or sponsoring organization observes a meal pattern violation related to the updated requirements, such as not serving a whole grain-rich grain, they must provide technical assistance in lieu of fiscal action.

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: Tuesday, May 8, 2018
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