CACFP New Meal Pattern Requirements

The USDA recently updated the CACFP meal pattern to ensure children and adults have access to healthy, balanced meals throughout the day.  These updated requirements include greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fats.  The new meal pattern requirements must be implemented by October 1, 2017.

Reference: USDA Memo # CACFP 08-2017

New Meal Pattern Training Materials:

New Meal Pattern Implementation Forms:

New Meal Pattern Informational Resources:

Key infant meal pattern changes:

  • Two age groups, birth to 5 months and 6 to 11 months instead of three age groups;
  • Introduction of solid foods delayed from 4 months to 6 month of age and as infant is developmentally ready;
  • Juice, cheese food, and cheese spread is no longer creditable;
  • Whole eggs are creditable;
  • A vegetable or fruit, or a combination of both, must be served at snack when the infant is developmentally ready;
  • Ready-to-eat cereals may be served to older infants at snack when infant is developmentally ready; and
  • CACFP centers and day care homes may be reimbursed for meals when a mother chooses to directly breastfeed her infant at the child care center or home.

Key child and adult meal pattern changes:

  • Added a fourth age group to address the needs of older children in Emergency Shelter and At-Risk Center settings:   1 through 2 year olds, 3 through 5 year olds, 6 through 12 year olds, 13 through 18 year olds (new) and adults;
  • Separate vegetable and fruit components at lunch, supper, and snack;
  • Juice may fulfill the entire vegetable component or fruit component at one meal or snack per day;
  • Breakfast cereals must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce;
  • At least one serving of grains per day must be whole grain-rich;
  • Grain-based desserts do not count towards the grains requirement.  This includes, but is not limited to: Pop Tarts, Granola Bars, Nutri Grain Bars, Graham Crackers, Animal Crackers, Vanilla Wafers, etc.;
  • A meat/meat alternate may be used to meet the entire grains component at breakfast no more than three times per week;
  • Tofu and soy yogurts may be used to meet the meat/meat alternate component;
  • Unflavored, whole milk must be served to children 1 year old; unflavored low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk must be served to children 2 through 5 years old; unflavored low-fat (1%), unflavored fat-free or flavored fat-free milk must be served to children 6 years old and older and adults;
  • Yogurt may be served in place of milk once per day for adults only;
  • Yogurt must contain no more than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces;
  • Deep fat-fried foods (cooked by submerging in hot oil or other fat) that are prepared on-site cannot be part of a reimbursable meal:
  • Child care centers and day care homes must offer and make water available throughout the day to all children upon their request;
  • Parents and guardians may provide no more than one meal component of a reimbursable meal for children or adults with a non-disability dietary need; and
  • At-risk afterschool programs may utilize offer versus serve.

For additional information about the CACFP New Meal Pattern go to: CACFP New Meal Pattern FAQs