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Meal Pattern Minute: Meal Counts During Family Style Dining

May 3, 2024

When serving pre-plated meals, Child and Adult Care Food Program providers count meals at point-of-service to claim meals for reimbursement. But when meals are served in a family style meal service setting, how does a CACFP provider conduct a meal count since children may not serve all the food components onto their plate?

Listen in to this Meal Pattern Minute as Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, provides the answer to this question. Always double check with your State agency or sponsoring organization to confirm this information.


Review the resources below to help you further understand family style dining in the CACFP.

Family Style Meal Service with Children in the Child and Adult Care Food Program Operator Booklet

  • Meal Counts Be sure to assign someone for each classroom to take the required meal count at each mealtime. Meal counts must be taken while children are eating, not before and not after the meal service is over. Daily attendance records must not be used in place of meal count records. For more information on required documentation, please contact your sponsoring organization or State agency.


Train CACFP providers on Family Style Meal Service using the USDA Power Point slides to help prepare and train staff meet CACFP meal pattern requirements to successfully serve meals family style at your site.

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