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Senate Partner Bill: Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act 

March 20, 2024

Senate Partner Bill 4x3

Today, March 20, the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Casey (PA) to: 

  • Allow providers who are open for more than 8 hours in a day to be reimbursed for an additional meal (up to 3 meals and 1 snack). 
  • Align the calculation of reimbursement rates for family child care homes with that of centers by shifting to “food away from home.” 
  • Allow annual eligibility for for-profit child care centers to streamline program operations. 
  • Require a review of the CACFP Serious Deficiency process. 
  • Establish an advisory committee on CACFP paperwork reduction. 

Why it Matters 

This bill partners the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR) and Congressman Marc Molinaro (NY). 

Historically, low reimbursement and burdensome paperwork have been significant barriers to program participation and has also caused many CACFP providers to drop-off the program.  

Aligning the calculation of family child care home reimbursement with that of centers will increase reimbursement for homes and decrease the disparities between homes and centers. The additional meal will also be a great help to providers who are open for the full day, and especially those who operate non-traditional hours. These providers are currently paying for an additional meal out of their pocket, taking a cut to their profits. Reimbursement for that additional meal will mitigate this loss in profit and allow them to use that much needed money for different aspects of their program. 

Shifting to annual eligibility will decrease paperwork and save a lot of time for for-profit centers and sponsoring organizations. This is a great step towards lessening the administrative burden of the program, but the establishment of an advisory committee on paperwork reduction would help to identify more areas where the program can be streamlined.  

These provisions will improve the CACFP, resulting in higher program participation and expanding access to nutritious meals. Tell your representative to take action for the CACFP by supporting the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act!

NCA and Partners Endorse the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act 

NCA is happy to join over 30 national organizations in endorsing this important bill for CACFP. Our President and CEO, Lisa Mack shares: 

“NCA applauds Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) for sponsoring the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act of 2024 and is thrilled to see important priorities included that improve the nutrition security of young children. As children across the nation are in care for longer hours, reimbursement for an additional meal or snack in child care is necessary to support working families. Furthermore, family child care is an important part of the child care infrastructure and aligning the cost of living adjustment with child care centers provides equitable funding for these small businesses. We are grateful for the attention to improving the USDA Child and Adult Food Program." 


Senator Casey emphasizes how this bill will benefit children, their families, and child care providers: 

“An additional meal can make all the difference to a child in need and a family under financial stress. This bill allows for long-overdue improvements to a critical childhood nutrition program that will ease the burden on child care providers and ensure children have a chance at a healthy start.” 

Congressional Co-Sponsors

Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) 

Senator Rich Blumenthal (D-CT) 

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) 

Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT)

Senator Tina Smith (D-MN)

Senator Peter Welch (D-VT)

Endorsing Organizations



Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics  

Acelero Learning 

All Our Kin 

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)  

CACFP Roundtable  

Center for Law and Social Policy  

Child Care Aware of America 

Coalition on Human Needs  

Council for Professional Recognition 

Council of Administrators of Special Education  

Early Care and Education Consortium 

Educare Learning Network 

Family Values @ Work  

First Children’s Finance 

First Five Years Fund 

First Focus Campaign for Children  

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) 

Home Grown  

Independent Restaurant Coalition 

KinderCare Learning Companies  

Learning Care Group, Inc. 

National Association for Family Child Care 

National Association for the Education of Young Children  

National Association of Counties 

National CACFP Forum  

National CACFP Sponsors Association  

National Child Care Association  

National Education Association 

National Health Care for the Homeless Council 

National Women’s Law Center 


Reinvestment Fund 

Save the Children 

School Nutrition Association 

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)  

YMCA of the USA 


Take Action! 

Act now! Urge your Senators to cosponsor the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act that would streamline and strengthen the CACFP to expand access to nutritious meals.