Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a food program that helps emergency shelters serve healthy meals to children and young people experiencing homelessness. CACFP meals help ensure equitable access to nutritious food for better health.
CACFP provides important resources to emergency shelters, including cash payments, free USDA foods, training, and program assistance. Emergency shelters receive cash payment for serving breakfast, lunch, and supper. The meals must meet federal nutrition standards. Emergency shelters must serve the meals for free to eligible children and young people. There are no application forms for families to fill out.
The American Rescue Plan Act (PL 117-2) temporarily raised the age limit from 18 to 24, to serve young adults during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The CACFP Sponsor and Provider Characteristics Study finds that nearly 2 percent of facilities participating in CACFP in July 2017 were emergency shelters.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (PL 111-296) requires USDA to align the CACFP meal pattern with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (PL 108-265) extends the age limit from 12 to 18 years old.
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization of 1998 (PL 105-336) allows emergency shelters to serve CACFP meals to children age 12 or under, children of migrants age 15 and under, and children with disabilities of any age.
CACFP Guidance Impacting Emergency Shelters:
- CACFP 03-2023: Reimbursement for Meals and Snacks Served at CACFP Emergency Shelters after the Public Health Emergency Ends - notifies state agencies and program operators that temporary authority to claim reimbursement for meals and snacks to young people between the ages of 19 and 24 in emergency shelters participating in CACFP, will end when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.
- CACFP 12-2021: Q&As on Reimbursement for Meals and Snacks Served to Young Adults in CACFP – responds to frequently asked questions about emergency shelters’ claiming reimbursement for meals and snacks served to young people during COVID-19.
- CACFP 08-2021: Implementation Guidance on Reimbursement for Meals and Snacks Served to Young Adults in CACFP – outlines how meals and snacks served by emergency shelters to young people under age 25 are eligible for CACFP reimbursement during COVID-19.
- CACFP 05-2018: Providing Child Nutrition Program Benefits to Disaster Survivor Evacuees – provides an overview of options available under current program policy for connecting children and adult survivors, who have evacuated from areas subject to major disaster and emergency declarations, with child nutrition program benefits.
- CACFP 12-2014: Disaster Response – allows state agencies to designate any appropriate facility, which is providing meals to displaced families who are being temporarily housed elsewhere, as a CACFP emergency shelter during a natural disaster or other emergency situation.
- CACFP 11-2007: Guidance on Accommodations for Non-Traditional Program Operators – identifies flexibilities to reduce paperwork burden for emergency shelters and other nontraditional centers in CACFP.
- 71 FR 1: Age Limits for Children Receiving Meal in Emergency Shelters Interim Rule – amends CACFP regulations to raise the eligibility age for children in emergency shelters from 12 to 18 and extend eligibility to residential children without families.
- Q&As on Participation of Emergency Shelters in CACFP – responds to frequently asked questions about the approval of emergency shelters and the meal services they provide to children in CACFP.
- Guidance on Homeless Shelters Receiving USDA Foods – corrects an error in CACFP 5-99 to confirm that homeless shelters participating in CACFP can receive and use commodity foods to prepare the meals and snacks that they serve.
- CACFP 5-99: Guidance on Participation of Emergency Shelters Serving Homeless Children – details provisions of PL 105-336 which affect the administration of benefits to children residing in emergency shelters through CACFP.
- Press Release: USDA Boosts Food Assistance for Homeless Young Adults Seeking Refuge in Shelters
- Nutrition Standards for CACFP Meals and Snacks
- Nutrition Education for CACFP
- Team Nutrition
- Institute of Child Nutrition