What Are The Nutrition Standards For the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)?

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides federal funding to child and adult care providers in order to serve nutritious meals and snacks each day.

The CACFP requires care providers to meet nutrition standards in order to be reimbursed through the program. At Partners in Quality Care, we’re here to help you navigate the nutrition standards that child and adult care programs are required to meet.

So what are CACFP’s nutrition standards?

The CACFP bases its nutrition standards for healthy, balanced meals and snacks on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine, as well as cost and practical considerations and input from stakeholders. MN Child Care Licensing (Rule 3) also adheres to these dietary guidelines.

What’s Included?

The CACFP’s nutrition standards require meals and snacks to include a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat.

Here’s an example of requirements for lunch or dinner for children, ages 6-18:

  • 1 cup of milk or milk alternative
  • 2 ounces of meat or meat alternative
  • ½ cup of vegetables
  • ¼ cup of fruit
  • 1 ounce (or the equivalent) of grains

The requirements for snacks for children, ages 6-18, require providers serve two of the five items listed below:

  • 1 cup of milk or milk alternative
  • 1 ounce of meat or meat alternative
  • ¾ cup vegetables
  • ¾ cup fruit
  • 1 ounce (or the equivalent) of grains

Some other requirements for meals and snacks for children and adults in the program:

  • Juice is limited to once a day
  • At least one serving of grains per day must be rich in whole grains (grain-based desserts don’t count toward this requirement)
  • Yogurt must not contain more than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces
  • Breakfast cereals must not contain more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce.

The idea behind these requirements is that when children eat healthy when they’re young, it will help them develop healthy eating habits that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Partners in Quality Care has a full time dietician on staff to help your program with menu planning, recipes, adult care menu certification, or any of your other nutritional needs. These services are all included in your CACFP sponsorship or are available on a consultation basis.

Contact Us Today!

If you think your organization would benefit from federal funding to provide nutritious meals and snacks to the children or adults in your care, contact us today at 651-925-9344, or you can send an email to We would love to help you get started with CACFP and answer any questions you may have about the program.

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