Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federally funded program which is administered and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). The purpose of the program is to ensure that eligible children and adults who attend qualifying non-residential care facilities receive nutritious meals.
To accomplish this purpose, CACFP provides reimbursement to qualified caregivers for meals and supplements (snacks) served to participants. While the FNS develops the regulations and establishes the policies needed to conduct the program, state agencies are responsible for administering the program on the State level and for assisting sponsors on the local level.
In North Carolina, the CACFP is administered by the Special Nutrition Programs Unit in the Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Human Services.
- Complete the self-assessment Is CACFP for Me? (PDF, 145 KB).
- Sign up for the next Potential Institution Training and receive a certificate of attendance.
- During Potential Institution Training, you will learn how to complete an online application and successfully participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Copies of application forms are available on the CACFP Forms page.
- Send in your certificate of attendance along with your completed CACFP Application.
Note: Applications will not be accepted without a certificate of attendance.
- Child Care Centers: Public or private nonprofit child care centers, Head Start programs, and some for-profit* centers which are licensed or approved to provide day care may serve meals and snacks to infants and children through CACFP.
- Family Day Care Homes: CACFP provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served to small groups of children receiving nonresidential day care in licensed or approved private homes. A family or group day care home must sign an agreement with a sponsoring organization to participate in CACFP. The sponsoring organization organizes training, conducts monitoring, and helps with planning menus and filling out reimbursement forms.
- At-Risk Afterschool Programs: Afterschool care programs in low-income areas can participate in CACFP by providing free snacks and suppers to children under 18 years of age.
- Homeless Shelters: Emergency shelters which provide residential and food services to homeless families with children may participate in CACFP. Unlike most other CACFP facilities, a shelter does not have to be licensed to provide day care.
- Adult Day Care Centers: Public, private nonprofit, and some for-profit* adult day care facilities which provide structured, comprehensive services to adults 60 years of age and over as well as functionally impaired, nonresident adults may participate in CACFP.
- Outside-School-Hours Care Centers
* For-profit centers are eligible to receive meal reimbursement if they receive Title XIX or Title XX funds for at least 25% of enrolled participants.
The age requirement for participants in the CACFP, vary depending on the type of facility, include:
- Children birth to 18 years old
- Children of migrant workers age 15 or under
- Mentally/physically disabled children age 18 or under
- Chronically impaired disabled adults 18 years of age or older
- Adults 60 years of age receiving non-residential care
NC CACFP Regional Consultants, each with an assigned group of counties, administer the program on the local level. Consultants process application changes, monitor programs, audit program records, and provide technical assistance through on-site visits to facilities. Their goal is to enable and ensure that institutions are aware of and follow the guidelines of the CACFP in order that participants receive the maximum benefits that are available to them.
Congress established the Child Care Food Program in 1968 to ensure children in licensed or approved daycare centers, settlement houses, and recreation centers were receiving nutritious meals. The program initially targeted needy areas that had large numbers of working mothers and provided limited reimbursement for public or private nonprofit institutions.
Ten years later, in November 1978, Public Law 95-627 made the Child Care food Program permanent expanding it to cover all public or private nonprofit institutions or sponsored facilities, licensed or approved to care for children. Expanded coverage included child care centers, outside-school-hours care centers, family and group day care homes, and institutions providing day care for the handicapped.
In August 1981, Public Law 97-35 added private for-profit facilities receiving Title XX, Social Security Act, compensation if at least 25 percent of the children enrolled at each center in each calendar month were Title XX beneficiaries. The law also permitted eligible non residential child day care institutions to receive children reimbursement for feeding children 12 years of age and younger and set the age for children of migrant workers at 15 years or younger. This law further expanded the program to include mentally or physically handicapped persons, regardless of their age, who were enrolled in an institution or facility caring for a majority of children 18 or younger.
In November 1987, following passage of the Older Americans Act, new amendments allowed for participation by selected adult day care centers in the Child Care Food Program. The addition of an entirely new age bracket prompted a new provision in the Program and led in January 1990 to the name change to the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
In 1998, Public Law 105-336 authorized CACFP reimbursement for snacks to children through age 18 in "At-Risk" afterschool centers. "At-Risk" centers are defined as afterschool programs located in the attendance area of a school where at least 50 percent of the enrolled children are eligible for free or reduced price meals. The law also consolidated benefits for homeless children, enabling public or private nonprofit emergency shelters which provide residential and food services to homeless families to participate in CACFP. Eligible shelters were authorized to receive reimbursement for serving up to three meals each day to homeless children who reside there. Unlike most other CACFP facilities, a shelter does not have to be licensed to provide day care. It must, however, meet any health and safety codes that are required by state or local law.
Last Modified: May 9, 2018