Roughly 4 million children under age twelve go hungry each day. Research demonstrates that children who lack adequate nutrition are more likely to have health problems and to have difficulty in school. There are several programs that help child care providers pay for meals and snacks. Below is a description of the major programs that provide nutrition assistance to children in child care. To access more childhood nutrition and obesity prevention resources, click here.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACF)
Who is eligible to receive funds?
Licensed public and non-profit child care centers, family child care, Head Start, recreation centers, and group child care homes are eligible for assistance to provide meals and snacks. Public and non-profit private schools that provide organized after-school programs also are eligible. Any child up to age 12 is entitled to meals. For profit child care centers that use Title XX funds to serve 25 percent or more low-income children also are eligible to participate.
Family child care providers must sign an agreement with a sponsoring organization. The organization provides training, monitoring, and assistance in planning menus and filling out reimbursement forms.
Which children are eligible? Child under the age of 12 years are eligible to receive up to two meals and one snack a day through the program. Migrant children and children with disabilities under age 15 years are eligible.
What are the special rules regarding immigrant children?
The law provides States with the option of enforcing restrictions in serving immigrants. States can ask child care providers and after-school programs to check the immigration status of children participating in the program and to turn away undocumented children.
How are programs reimbursed for meals?
Most centers include the meals as part of the fee. Centers receive payment through the CACF program based on the type of meal served and the child's eligibility for free, reduced-price or paid meals. After-school programs are reimbursed at the free rate. The rates also are based on the family income of the participants.
Special Milk Program
Program purpose and authorization:
The Special Milk Program provides milk to children in child care and schools that do not participate in other Federal child nutrition programs. Schools that participate in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs also may participate in the milk program in order to provide milk to children enrolled in half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs that do not have a meal program.
Who is eligible for free milk?
Children either purchase the milk or receive it for free. Families must meet income guidelines for their children to receive free milk.
What are the reimbursement rules?
Programs receive reimbursement for each half-pint of milk served. The milk program must operate on a non-profit basis and agree to use the Federal reimbursement to reduce the price of milk for all children. The reimbursement for each half-pint sold is 12.75 cents; for children receiving milk free, the program is reimbursed the net purchase price of the milk.
What institutions are eligible for assistance?
A public or private nonprofit organization or school that operates an organized after-school program (regularly scheduled activities in a supervised environment providing educational or enrichment activities) and that is located in an area with a school in which 50 percent or more of the children can be reimbursed for snacks.
After-school programs that consist entirely of interscholastic or community-level competitive sports are not eligible. After-school programs that include supervised athletic activity and are "open to all" are eligible.
An after-school program does not need to be licensed in order to participate unless the State or locality imposes a licensing requirement. Even if there is no state or local licensing program, the after-school programs must meet state or local health and safety standards.
What about summer programs?
This program does not provide assistance for summer programs. They must apply for assistance under he Summer Food Service Program.
For more information, contact:
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food & Nutrition Service
Phone: (202) 720-2791
Food Research and Action Center
Phone: (202) 986-2200