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Serving Children that are Vegetarian in the CACFP

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November 29, 2022

Young black girl smiling and leaning on table with a plate of orange and green veggies in front of her

So, some of your participants are vegetarian. Not a problem, there are vegetarian dishes that all children can enjoy! Plus, many meat alternates are a cost-effective protein source. Our partners at the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) have some great resources for serving vegetarian menus that fit into the CACFP meal pattern.  

Types of Vegetarians  

There are many distinct types of vegetarian diets and knowing each one can help you make the necessary changes based on a child’s dietary requirements.  

Chart explaining the different types of vegeterians, what foods each type of vegetarian can eat and what they can't eat.


How to Serve Vegetarians in the CACFP 

Use the table above and work with families to determine what a child can and cannot eat based on their diet. In most instances, you should be able to replace meats with meat alternatives at mealtime. For example, when serving spaghetti noodles with meat sauce, a vegetarian child could be served noodles with meatless sauce and a serving of mozzarella cheese on top.  

If a child doesn’t drink cow’s milk, you can serve nondairy milk that is nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk. Many soy milks meet these criteria. More information on alternative milk options can be found in the crediting handbook 


Looking for Tasty Vegetarian Recipes? 

ICN has great vegetarian recipes in both English and Spanish! 

For even more resources, check out NCA's vegetarian recipes!