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Nutrition Standards for CACFP Meals and Snacks

Resource type
Technical Assistance & Guidance
Resource Materials
CACFP kids

Centers and day care homes offering meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) play a critical role in supporting the wellness, health, and development of children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities through the provision of nutritious foods. In particular, child care providers have a powerful opportunity to instill healthy habits in young children that serve as a foundation for healthy choices in life.

The nutrition standards for meals and snacks served in the CACFP are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, science-based recommendations made by the National Academy of Medicine, cost and practical considerations, and stakeholder input. The standards support the service of a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean meats/meat alternative, and low-fat and fat-free dairy while minimizing added sugar and saturated fat. In addition, the standards encourage breastfeeding to align the CACFP with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

USDA provides guidance, resources, best practices, and training for CACFP operators in a variety of settings to support them in providing healthy, balanced meals and snacks to the children and adults they serve.

Nutrition Standards


Meal Patterns Tables

Policy Memos

Guidance and Technical Assistance

CACFP operators can utilize the following materials and resources to help them implement the CACFP meal pattern requirements:

Page updated: November 30, 2023