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The CACFP Combat Child Hunger and Supports Working Families 

April 17, 2024

Combat Food Insecurity_4x3

According to the USDA’s Household Food Security in the United States report, one in every five children in the United States is food insecure, meaning that approximately 13 million children do not know where their next meal will come from. In 3.3 million households, family members struggle to provide adequate nutritious food for their children. 

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides quality meals to many of these children and helps working families protect their children against hunger. While their families are working to put food on the table, a majority of children spend their days in a child care setting. Through the CACFP, child care providers can receive financial reimbursement to serve nutritious meals to those in their care. 

Approximately 138,000 child care programs participate in the CACFP. By placing their children in a CACFP child care, parents are assured that their children will receive high quality, well-balanced meals that they may not be able to provide at home.

“My son is in a program that utilizes the CACFP. It is an important part of early childhood to make sure that each child has a meal. They may not have a meal at home due to food insecurity. With this program, it guarantees a nutritious meal to those that may need it most.”

- Arkansas CACFP Advocate 

“We greatly appreciate being able to provide meals and snacks to children experiencing food insecurity through the CACFP. The CACFP has made a positive difference in the fight against hunger in our communities while offering healthy and nutritious meals.”

- Colorado CACFP Advocate 

Children receive the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly with CACFP meals and snacks that are supported by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Research has shown that the CACFP lowers the odds of food insecurity, poor health, and admittance to hospitals for young children.  

While the meals and snacks provided through CACFP increase the nutrition security of participating children, providers are limited to serving two meals and a snack or one meal and two snacks each day. Therefore, working families are still left to provide the additional meal that children need to meet their necessary dietary intake for the day. Over half of these households participate in other Federal nutrition assistance programs, and still struggle to put food on the table. Allowing reimbursement for providers to serve an additional meal each day would take the burden off of working families and ensure that children receive proper nutrients. 

“I work as an early educator in an area that is lower income. This [an additional meal] would be extremely beneficial to the children I serve. There are countless children that do not know where their next meal will come from. Being able to serve another meal and help these children…would be extremely helpful.”

- Texas CACFP Advocate 

I’ve owned and operated a child care center in Coweta, OK for over 12 years, serving over 60 families at a time. I’ve seen how important it is for some families to have access to food at day care. I’ve had children come in starving because they didn’t have enough to eat the night before.

- Oklahoma CACFP Advocate 

Support the Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act to bolster a critical nutrition program, support working families, and protect children from hunger.