CACFP Meal Pattern Changes Made Simple

August 3, 2017

The CACFP new meal pattern changes will go into effect October 1, 2017. The changes align CACFP meal patterns with the most up-to-date nutrition requirements from USDA. The goal for the changes is to ensure that children are receiving the most nutritious meals and snacks. Let’s break down each change for the two different age groups.

The Changes for the Child Meal Pattern Are as Follows:

• Juice will only be allowed once per day,

• The combined fruit/vegetable component will now be a separate vegetable and a separate fruit component,

• At least one serving of grains per day must be whole-grain rich,

• Sweet grain items can no longer be claimed as a grain/bread component; to include pop tarts, cookies, cereal bars, toaster pastries, doughnuts, and granola bars,

• Breakfast cereals must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving,

• Meat/Meat alternates may be claimed up to 3 times per week in place of the grain component at breakfast,

• Tofu is allowable as a meat alternate,

• Yogurts must contain no more than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces,

• Providers can be reimbursed when parents provide one component per meal as long as it meets the meal pattern requirements; example: child with a special dietary need, and

• On-site deep frying is not allowed as a way of preparing claimed foods.


The Changes for the Infant Meal Pattern Are as Follows:

• There will now only be two infant age groups instead of three: 0-5 months and 6-11 months,

• Only breast milk or infant formula are served to infants 0-5 months,

• Providers will receive reimbursement for meals when a breastfeeding mother comes to the child care center or home and directly breastfeeds her infant,

• Solid foods are gradually introduced around 6 months of age, as developmentally appropriate,

• Whole eggs and yogurt can be claimed for infants 6-11 months of age, as developmentally appropriate,

• Breakfast cereals that contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce may be served to infants 6-11 months at snack, as developmentally appropriate,

• Juice, cheese food and cheese spread are not allowed to be claimed for infants, and

• Snacks for infants 6-11 months of age require a vegetable or fruit, or both, as developmentally appropriate.

We know that change is difficult, but the staff at Child Care Resource Network want to make sure you have everything you and your program needs to be successful. If you have questions or concerns about the new meal pattern changes or the CACFP program in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 716-877-6666.