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Allowable Use of Grant Funds

Due to numerous inquiries related to the use of CACFP grant monies, clarification is needed as to the allowable and unallowable use of award funds. Our goal is to be as consistent with Team Nutrition grants as is possible.

Below is some general guidance for the allowance of selected items:

Food Cost

CACFP Child Care Wellness funds may be used to pay for food if the food is part of a specific educational activity. For example, conducting a child care taste test of specific fruits or vegetables, or demonstrating the making of simple, healthy snacks, is a reasonable request. The use of the food must be related to nutrition education activities. CACFP Child Care Wellness funds should not be used to purchase meals or snacks, improve reimbursable meal components, or subsidize the reimbursement rates.

Food and Nutrition Equipment

CACFP Child Care Wellness funds may not be used to purchase food service operation equipment, such as salad bar equipment, refrigerators, food processors, etc. However, small mobile kitchen equipment to be used for food preparation demonstration or hands on food experiences may be permissible if such activities are part of the integrated nutrition education lessons.

Medical Equipment

Child Care Wellness funds may not be used to purchase medical equipment or health services related to health assessments such as obtaining clinical data on nutritional status, chronic disease or chronic disease risk assessment. Therefore, measurement of height, weight, skin fold thickness, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose and iron level are not allowable costs under the CACFP Child Care Wellness grant. Although the Body Mass Index (BMI) concept may still be part of the nutrition education component for the age-appropriate children, obtaining funding for the height and weight status should come from current resources or other funding sources.

Physical Activity

Eating healthy and being physically active are desired behavior outcomes of Child Care Wellness grants. States are encouraged to coordinate with community, youth and recreational organizations and others whose primary mission is to make regular opportunities for physical activity accessible to children. Educational and program materials developed with Child Care Wellness funds to promote and reinforce physical activity for all target audiences must include messages that link nutrition and physical activity, such as “balance your day with food and play (Eat Smart. Play Hard.). While it might be permissible to use grant funds to purchase posters, pamphlets, audiovisuals, and small, consumable supplies such as a few jump ropes or hula hoops to help promote life-long physical activity habits as part of a nutrition education activity, CACFP Child Care Wellness funds are not intended to purchase pedometers or award pins for everyone, or to subsidize the regular physical education program.

Child Care Wellness funds may not be used to purchase playground equipment, exercise or sports equipment, sports lessons (swimming, skating, etc.) or to pay for the services of a for-profit physical fitness organization.

Promotional/Incentive Items

The purpose of the CACFP Child Care Wellness grants is to improve the health, nutrition, and physical activity of children in child care settings, not to promote CACFP itself. Any promotional item or incentive should promote one or more general nutrition education messages. Messages should not contain campaigns, slogans, or taglines of the State agency, child care institution, or any other organization.

Sub-Contracting of Grant Management

If adequate funding is available and acceptable to the State agency, CACFP Child Care Wellness funds may be used to sub-contract the work of the grant management to an outside source. Payment of contracted grant management must be charged to the State's portion of the award funds.


Gardening is an excellent way to involve the children, parents and the community in nutrition-related activities. If proposals submitted specify a gardening activity, CACFP Child Care Wellness funds may be used to purchase a reasonable amount of supplies (e.g., seeds, potting soil and starter pots) for gardening projects or even a few shovels and hoes for a larger gardening project. Funds may not be used to purchase bulk supplies such as topsoil, irrigation supplies, fencing or any type of large equipment such as a tiller or greenhouse.

State Agencies are required to use no less than fifty percent of total CACFP Child Care Wellness funds to award sub-grants to local child care institutions to improve the health, nutrition, and physical activity of children in child care settings.

No amount should be deducted off the top before calculating the fifty percent sub-grant amounts. In addition, no administrative or indirect cost should be charged to the sub-grant funding.

Page updated: March 03, 2023