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Meal Pattern Minute: Offering Water

November 24, 2023

What do you, a house plant, and a squirrel have in common? To survive, all living beings & things require water. In fact, many individuals don't drink enough water during the day. That is why it is so important to provide water for those in your care throughout the day. But in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, do you just keep a pitcher around until someone asks you for water or do you offer water to remind them to hydrate? 


Listen in while Isabel Ramos-Lebron, Nutrition Education Specialist, answers this question. Read below for more guidance, tips, and ideas about water in the CACFP. 



  • This memorandum explains the water requirements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): Water Availability in the Child and Adult Care Food Program 
    • The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that water be consumed daily, but do not establish a daily minimum intake for water consumption. Water can help children stay hydrated and healthy, particularly when chosen as an alternative to sugarsweetened beverages. Child care centers and day care homes can make water available to children in a variety of ways, including having cups available next to the kitchen sink faucet, having water pitchers and cups set out, or simply providing water if it should be requested. Child care centers and day care homes are not required to have water available for children to self-serve. Offering water means asking the children whether they would like water at different times throughout the day. For very young children, this may require visual cues such as showing the cup or pitcher while verbally offering the water.
  •  Review and print this document to have close at hand for reference:  Offering Water in the CACFP.  
    • In the CACFP, centers and homes are required to offer water to children throughout the day. As a best practice, sites are encouraged to make water available to adult participants as well. Water is not a meal component in the CACFP. There is no minimum serving amount for water.


A few tips on water in the CACFP: 

  • Make sure your water is safe. 
  • Offer water during snack when milk is not served. 
  • Have individual water bottles labelled for each child in your care. 
  • Be a role model and drink water with children! 


Want to add some fun flavors to water? Try infusing fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Here are a few combination ideas below: 

  • Strawberries and Lemons 
  • Cucumber and Limes 
  • Watermelon and Mint

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