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Sponsor Spotlight: Rache Cross of Caring People Alliance

Sponsor of Family Child Care Homes, Child Care Centers, and At-Risk Afterschool

March 26, 2023

Rache Cross is the Senior Director of CACFP at Caring People Alliance (CPA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Caring People Alliance is a sponsoring organization (sponsor) for 22 family child care homes, 8 centers, and 2 At-Risk Afterschool sites which collectively serve meals to approximately 800 children in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. 

Rache initially started working with the CACFP as an office assistant at a child care center, which was a self-sponsor for the CACFP. At the child care center, Rache’s job was to input meal counts in their record system, sparking her interested in understanding how the child care center was able to receive the meal allowances. Rache’s interest in the CACFP led her to become a monitor at the child care center and then transitioning to a monitor at Caring People Alliance. In just 5 years since joining CPA, Rache has worked her way up to being the Senior Director for CACFP. 

Rache Cross Crop

Since joining CPA, Rache has worked diligently to improve CPA’s program integrity and has implemented procedures to ensure they remain in compliance as a CACFP sponsor. As Senior Director, Rache has also helped CPA to expand their CACFP sponsorship to include five unaffiliated centers and has extended their coverage area to include Montgomery County and Bucks County. 

Rache believes CPA is a successful sponsor because they maintain constant communication with providers to ensure they have a great understanding of the program. CPA also regularly checks in with providers to see how everything is going and to provide any technical assistance a provider may need. CPA doesn’t just monitor providers three times a year, they are consistently speaking with providers who are able to request extra assistance when needed. 

Rache notes that it is important to make the CACFP exciting for providers: 

I’ve been doing a lot of virtual interviews with people, and I make sure that when I’m going over all of the rules and all of the regulations that I also make the program exciting and letting them know that our goal is to feed children. So, if we can just follow the rules then we will be able to successfully feed children healthy meals.” 

She also recommends that sponsors, themselves, do not get frustrated with the regulations. If a sponsor appears frustrated with the program, then it might rub off on providers and they will lose motivation to participate in the CACFP. Rache also works to make the program as easy as possible for providers. She communicates regulations in as simple terms as possible and makes sure that providers understand everything they need to do to receive the highest reimbursement possible. Rache works with colleagues to ensure that communication to providers is clear and easy to understand. 

It is a main goal of CPA to get providers in Philadelphia to participate in the CACFP. Philadelphia county is below the poverty guidelines and almost every school qualifies for 100% free or reduced prices meals. CPA is focused on getting CACFP to impoverished areas and providing home-cooked meals to children. 

“The CACFP is great in this area and in other areas as well because it creates an opportunity for families in the poorer areas to receive assistance in providing healthy meals. A lot of parents want their children to receive healthy and nutritious meals, but just are not financially capable of doing that. So, in the child care homes or centers where their children are enrolled, it allows them to be able to get that meal that they very well may not be able to get if they didn’t attend these types of programs.” 

Rache fully supports the mission of CPA and is motivated to continue to expand access to healthy meals for children. She recognizes that children need nutritious food to grow healthy and to learn. As poverty continues to increase in her area, Rache is proud to be a part of a program that serves those in need. She wants to continue to help children receive much-needed nourishment that will help them grow into healthy adults.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Rache has worked for Caring People Alliance for over 5 years.