Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Vegetable and Fruit Requirements in CACFP: Q&As

EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2017-0012
FNS Document #
CACFP09-2017
Resource type
Policy Memos
FAQs/Q&As
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
DATE: March 23, 2017
MEMO CODE: CACFP 09-2017
SUBJECT: Vegetable and Fruit Requirements in the CACFP: Q&As
TO:

Regional Directors
Special Nutrition Programs
All Regions

State Directors
Child Nutrition Programs
All States

This memorandum explains the vegetable and fruit requirements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and includes Questions and Answers. This revision amends the policy for crediting mixtures of vegetables and fruits to allow them to count towards both the vegetable component and the fruit component in the Question and Answers section. This revision also includes new Questions and Answers. This memorandum supersedes CACFP 25-2016 Vegetable and Fruit Requirements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Sept. 9, 2016.

Background

The updated vegetable and fruit requirements for the infant, children, and adult meal patterns established under 7 CFR 226.20(a) and (b) are explained in this memorandum. CACFP centers and day care homes must comply with these requirements no later than Oct. 1, 2017. Meals that meet the current CACFP meal pattern requirements may not be disallowed until the updated meal pattern requirements take effect on Oct. 1, 2017. For information on implementing the updated meal patterns prior to the effective date, please refer to the memorandum CACFP 14-2016, Early Implementation of the New Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Pattern Requirements (https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cn/SP42_CACFP14_2016os.pdf).

I. Infant Meal Pattern

Vegetables and Fruit

The updated CACFP infant meal pattern requires that centers and day care homes serve vegetables and fruit (cooked, mashed, or pureed, as needed to obtain the appropriate texture and consistency) at breakfast, lunch, supper and snack for infants age 6 through 11-months old, if the infant is developmentally ready to accept them. Adding vegetables and fruits to the updated snack meal pattern for older infants was included to help young children establish healthy eating habits as early as possible. Recent studies have found that dietary habits are fairly well established by two years of age and that a substantial proportion of infants do not consume any vegetables and fruit in a given day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends serving infants a variety of foods, including an increased amount of vegetables and fruits.

Juice

Starting Oct. 1, 2017, the updated infant CACFP meal pattern also prohibits child care centers and day care homes from providing juice to infants as part of a reimbursable meal. This prohibition is consistent with the recommendations of the National Academy of Medicine and American Heart Association of no juice before the age of one.

For more information on the entire infant meal pattern, please refer to the memorandum CACFP 06-2017, Feeding Infants and Meal Pattern Requirements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program; Questions and Answers (https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cacfp/CACFP06-2017os.pdf).

II. Child and Adult Meal Pattern

Separate Vegetable and Fruit Components

Vegetables and fruits prepared without added solid fats, added sugars, refined starches, and sodium are nutrient-dense foods and, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines), are under consumed by Americans. In the updated CACFP meal patterns, there is now a separate vegetable component and fruit component at lunch, supper, and snack. This change means children and adults are offered a serving of vegetables and a serving of fruit at lunch and supper. In addition, a snack with a vegetable and fruit in the appropriate minimum serving sizes is reimbursable. Separate vegetable and fruit components will help increase the variety of vegetables and fruits served and consumed by children and adults.

To increase flexibility in menu planning, centers and day care homes may choose to serve two vegetables at lunch and supper, rather than a serving of vegetables and a serving of fruit. This means that the fruit component at lunch and supper may be substituted by an additional vegetable. The substituted vegetable must be at least the same serving size as the fruit component it replaced. To be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation that all Americans should eat a variety of vegetables, when two vegetables are served at lunch or supper, they must be two different kinds of vegetables. Please note that vegetables do not need to be from different vegetable subgroups (e.g., dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, starchy vegetables, beans and peas (legumes), or other vegetables). See the table below for examples of reimbursable lunch or supper meals featuring a fruit and a vegetable, or two vegetables, in lieu of fruit. Centers and day care homes cannot serve two fruits at lunch or supper meals under the updated meal patterns.

Required Components Sample Menu, fruit and vegetable (Ages 3-5) Sample Menu, two vegetables (Ages 3-5) Sample Menu, fruit and vegetable (Ages 6-12)

Sample Menu, two vegetables (Ages 6-12)

Meat/meat alternates 1.5 oz chicken 1.5 oz chicken 2 oz chicken 2 oz chicken
Vegetables 1/4 cup green beans 1/4 cup cauliflower 1/2 cup broccoli 1/2 cup sweet potato
Fruit 1/4 cup diced peaches 1/4 cup carrots 1/4 cup apple slices 1/4 cup zucchini
Grain 1/2 whole wheat pita 1/2 whole wheat pita 1 whole wheat pita 1 whole wheat pita
Milk 3/4 cup unflavored, low-fat milk 3/4 cup unflavored, low-fat milk 1 cup unflavored, low-fat milk 1 cup unflavored, low-fat milk

Along with granting the menu planner greater flexibility, allowing centers and day care homes to serve two different vegetables at lunch and supper meals will help increase children and adults’ exposure to and consumption of vegetables.  The Dietary Guidelines found that few young children and adults consume the recommended amount of vegetables, while the majority of young children meet the recommended intake for fruit.

Consistent with the School Breakfast Program, vegetables and fruit are one combined component at breakfast meals. Centers and day care homes can continue to serve vegetables, fruits, or a combination of both at breakfast.

Juice

Under the updated child and adult meal patterns, fruit juice or vegetable juice may only be used to meet the vegetable or fruit requirement at one meal or snack per day. This limitation is based on the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation that at least half of the fruits consumed per day should come from whole fruits (fresh, canned, frozen, or dried).  While 100 percent juice can be part of a healthful diet, it lacks the dietary fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables and when consumed in excess can contribute to extra calories.  If a center or day care home serves fruit or vegetable juice at more than one meal (including snack), the meal with the lowest reimbursement rate containing juice would be disallowed. Please see the Questions and Answers in the attached for examples.

State agencies are reminded to distribute this information to program operators immediately. Program operators should direct any questions regarding this memorandum to the appropriate state agency. State agency contact information is available at https://www.fns.usda.gov/cacfp/cacfp-contacts. State agencies should direct questions to the appropriate FNS regional office.

Angela M. Kline
Director
Policy and Program Development Division
Child Nutrition Programs

03/23/2017

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.