Meal Patterns for CACFP Child Care Programs


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Meals and snacks served to children in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) must comply with the CACFP meal patterns. The new CACFP meal patterns for children began on October 1, 2017, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) final rule, Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revisions Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  Effective October 1, 2021, the required amounts for the grains component change to the ounce equivalents in Grain Ounce Equivalents for the CACFP.

The final rule requires more whole grains and a greater variety of vegetables and fruits, and reduces the amount of added sugars and solid fats in CACFP meals. It also better aligns the CACFP with other Child Nutrition Programs.

The CACFP meal patterns for children apply to: 

  • children ages 1-12; 
  • children through age 18 in at-risk afterschool care centers and emergency shelters; 
  • children of any age with disabilities; and 
  • children ages 15 and younger of migrant workers. 

For information on the meal patterns for infants from birth through 11 months, visit the CSDE's Feeding Infants in CACFP Child Care Programs webpage.

CACFP Meal Patterns for Children 

Meal Pattern Guidance

Go to the Documents/Forms section in the left navigation bar to access menu forms, production records, and sample menus for CACFP child care programs. Go to the Related Resources section in the left navigation bar to access information on crediting foods, menu planning, and meal service for CACFP child care programs.