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CACFP Participation Among U.S. Childcare Providers

Resource type
Research and Data
Research Reports
Research type
Participation Characteristics
Participation Rates
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Summary (231.79 KB)
PDF Icon Final Report (1.71 MB)

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is administered by the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) through state child nutrition agencies. USDA provides reimbursements to participating providers for nutritious meals and snacks served to participants enrolled in their care. Studies have found CACFP meals and snacks to be of high nutritional quality.

The analysis in this report uses data from the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) to compare the general characteristics of childcare providers, both centers and day care homes, by CACFP participation status and eligibility. The NSECE is a nationally representative survey of childcare providers sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The analysis also uses a follow-up data set to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic affected provider operations and CACFP participation.

Key Findings

  • In 2019, 61 percent of eligible childcare centers and 67 percent of eligible day care home providers participated in CACFP.
  • CACFP-participating centers and homes were more likely to serve children experiencing food insecurity at home.
  • CACFP-participating providers were more likely to serve populations experiencing economic disadvantage.
  • CACFP-participating homes and centers were more likely to use a curriculum or prepared learning activities.
  • Most CACFP providers that operated in 2019 were still operating in October 2020 during the pandemic, though centers were more likely to remain open than homes. Both centers and homes that were still operating continued to participate in CACFP.
Page updated: June 26, 2024