Customer service is a priority for this Department and taking stakeholder input seriously is an integral part of ensuring optimal service is delivered. Today’s final rule adjusting timelines for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) requirements is the latest example of this.
Program standards for school meals, like broader dietary guidance, use “ounce equivalency” measures to determine comparable serving sizes of grains. This helps ensure children and adults are served the recommended amounts.
Through a variety of sources, including responses to a February 2017 request for information, FNS has learned that some CACFP meal planners may not be fully ready to implement ounce equivalents crediting by October 2019. In fact, FNS received 679 written comments during the 30-day public comment period. The vast majority (604) wrote in support of the delayed implementation, most commonly citing the need for additional training and technical assistance. While aligning all programs with consistent measures ultimately makes it easier to apply serving sizes in multiple programs, child and adult care providers require more time for this transition.
We heard these operator concerns and are responding. Today, September 25, the final rule, “Delayed Implementation of Grains Ounce Equivalents in the Child and Adult Care Food Program,” was published in the Federal Register. The final rule mirrors the proposed rule, simply delaying the implementation date to October 1, 2021. During this period, FNS will develop additional technical assistance materials to better support CACFP providers. It’s important to remember, however, that this change has only minor effects on serving amounts, so easing this administrative change is not delaying a significant nutritional benefit.
USDA is committed to providing excellent customer service. States and sponsoring organizations will now have more time to implement the new crediting requirement, meal planners will receive training and technical assistance, and child and adult care program participants will continue to receive high quality, nutritious CACFP meals.
Today’s announcement serves as another example of how we’ve listened and responded to our valued customers – those who serve America’s children and families.