With over 3 million children receiving meals from the CACFP each day, the proposed meal patterns will help ensure children have access to healthy, balanced meals throughout the day, USDA said. The rule will also provide older adults and adults in nonresidential daycare settings greater access to nutritious foods.
The proposal is the first major update of the CACFP meal patterns since the program's inception in 1968, USDA said.
USDA said it designed meal pattern changes that would not increase cost for providers. The proposal focuses on incremental changes that reflect the science behind the nutritional needs of CACFP's participants, and are practical and achievable for the program's varied service providers to implement.
Along with the updated meal patterns, USDA is proposing best practices as a guide for providers when choosing to take additional steps to offer high-quality and nutritious meals in their program.
"With over one in five children under the age of five being overweight or obese, the proposed improvements to the CACFP meal patterns will help safeguard the health of children early in their lives," Agriculture Undersecretary Kevin Concannon said.
Mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the proposed meal pattern updates delivered to the Federal Register Friday for publication this week are designed to work in concert with USDA's school meals standards.
The updated meal patterns are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, scientific recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, and stakeholder input, USDA said.