What to Know About CACFP

There are many different options to help you out thanks to the federal government. When people think of government assistance programs, they typically expect direct assistance. That is not how it always works! Some opportunities can still offer relief even if the relief does not reach the people who need it directly. One of those types of programs is the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

What is the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)?

CACFP is a federally-funded assistance program although states are in charge of administering it! This program offers compensation for nutritious meals and snacks that are distributed to eligible kids and adults. These compensations go towards childcare centers, daycare homes, and adult daycare centers that take part in the program. This includes offering compensation for food that goes to:

  • Kids that participate in programs that offer after-school care
  • Kids that are staying in emergency shelters
  • Adults that are more than the age of 60 or have a disability and are staying in a daycare home

This program contributes to the development, growth, and wellness of kids and the wellness of eligible adult individuals across the United States. You are probably a little confused. If these facilities are receiving these compensations, then how are they supporting Americans who need assistance? Well, more than 4.2 million children and 138,000 adults gain from nutritious meals and snacks from the CACFP with each passing day. 

How Does CACFP Operate?

The Food and Nutritious Service (FNS), which is a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is responsible for administering the program through grants. These grants will go to states that will manage the program. Generally, most states manage the CACFP through state education agencies. This will differ based on the state. Some states manage the CACFP through other entities such as their state health agency or their social services department. The governor of the state decides which agency is responsible for managing the program.

Facilities that want to participate in this program will need to conduct an agreement with the state agency that is managing the program. From the agreement, the facility would hold administrative and financial responsibility for all operations that are a product of CACFP. You can find different facilities that can distribute CACFP benefits such as:

  • Childcare centers
  • Homes that offer daycare services
  • Programs that provide after-school care
  • Emergency shelters
  • Daycare centers for adults

Childcare Centers

Entities that have a license or approval to offer daycare services can take part in CACFP. These entities can operate independently or as householded centers. This includes the following:

  • Public childcare centers
  • Private child care centers from a nonprofit organization
  • Care centers that operate outside-school-hours
  • Head Start programs

The facilities serve nutritious meals and are compensated at prices that are based on the kid’s eligibility for paid meals, discounted price meals, or meals that are free of charge.

Homes That Offer Day Care Services

A family daycare home or group daycare home that has a license or approval will need to contract an agreement with a householding organization, in the case that they want to participate in the CACFP. The facility will receive compensation for the meals they served, but it is based on eligibility for tier I rates or tier II rates.

Programs that Provide After-School Care

There is a wide range of community-based programs that provide after-school care. These programs provide educational and fulfilling activities for at-risk kids. Additionally, these programs can take part in the CACFP. The program will need to take place in areas where at least 50% of the kids are eligible for discounted price meals or meals that are free of charge.

Emergency Shelters

Public emergency shelters or private nonprofit emergency shelters that offer nutrition and housing support to kids facing homelessness can take part in CACFP. These shelters can receive compensation for up to three meals a day that they serve to kids staying in the shelter.

Day Care Centers for Adults

Public adult daycare centers or private nonprofit adult daycare centers that offer comprehensive and well-prepared services to non-residential individuals can take part in the CACFP. These centers can participate independently or as householded centers. The centers serve nutritious meals and are compensated at prices that are based on the individual’s eligibility for paid meals, discounted price meals, or meals that are free of charge.

Alternative Nutrition Assistance Programs to Apply For

Other than CACFP, there are alternative nutrition support programs that might be able to help out! These programs include:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP is one of the most popular nutrition assistance programs that help American households across the United States. This program offers eligible recipients payments each month through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Recipients can use this card to purchase qualifying food items at stores that allow these cards as a type of payment. Keep in mind not all stores will accept EBT cards! The fund amount that this program offers each month depends on a recipient’s information. This could include income level, household size, etc. If you are interested in applying for this program, then you will need to contact your state agency. You can contact them through your local SNAP office, their website, or by calling their toll-free number.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

This is a form of nutrition assistance program that particularly focuses on helping women, babies, and kids. Recipients of this program include individuals that are:

  • Pregnant or postpartum
  • Babies that are less than a year old
  • Kids that are less than 5 years old

This program can offer relief through supplemental nutritious meals, counseling, health referrals, and much more. If you want to apply for this program, you will need to get in touch with your local or state agency to decide on an appointment date.

Bottom Line

Finally, CACFP is a nutrition assistance program that can offer nutrition support to individuals in the United States through eligible centers. Millions of children and more than 100,000 individuals gain from the CACFP every day. The relief CACFP provides is nutritious meals and snack compensations. These compensations are distributed to facilities that participate in the program. Other than this program, there are other food assistance options like SNAP or the WIC Program. There are several types of nutrition assistance opportunities across the United States. You just need to know how to find them!