Since good nutrition is a key to proper childhood development and nutrition and physical activity is an important part of childcare, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a Study on Nutrition and Wellness Quality in Childcare Settings in Section 223 of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (PL 111-296). The objectives set out by Congress encompass four broad topics: (1) nutritional quality of foods offered, (2) physical activity, (3) sedentary activity, and (4) barriers to and facilitators of nutritional quality, physical activity, and participation by childcare centers and family day care homes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
This study will collect a broad range of data from a nationally representative sample of sponsors, directors, food preparers and/or provider staff of childcare centers, family day care home and after-school programs that participate in CACFP and those that do not participate in the program, and from the children and parents of children receiving care from CACFP childcare centers, family day care homes, and after-school programs during 2015-2016.
This data will be used to document the quality of meals and snacks offered in childcare facilities, relative to the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) which are prepared by USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the types of activities that might promote or inhibit healthy weight and development. The data will also provide insights into how nutritional quality and physical activity in childcare might be improved. And lastly, the study will collect data on the costs of childcare meals and snacks in relationship to CACFP reimbursements, other funding, and meal quality.