USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs
The USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs provide children and low-income people access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACF) and disaster assistance. This information on USDA nutrition assistance programs will benefit grantees who provide breakfast, lunch and snacks for families enrolled in their program.
Regulations for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
CACFP plays a vital role in improving the quality of services for children and families by making meals more affordable. Through CACFP, more than 3.2 million children and 112,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks each day.
This resource outlines the regulations under which the Secretary of Agriculture will carry out the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Section 17 of the National School Lunch Act, as amended, authorizes assistance to States through grants-in-aid and other means to initiate, maintain, and expand nonprofit food service programs for children or adult participants in non-residential institutions which provide care. Grantees that provide USDA services to preschoolers and Early Head Start children will benefit from reviewing these regulations.
CACFP Reimbursement Rates
CACFP reimburses centers at free, reduced-price, or paid rates for eligible meals and snacks served to enrolled children, targeting benefits to those children most in need. Rates are adjusted annually each July, as required by the statutes and regulations governing CACFP. Grantees who have USDA contracts will find this information useful when providing breakfast, lunch and snacks for eligible families enrolled in their program.
IM 08-19 Automatic Eligibility for Free Meal Benefits Extended to All Children Enrolled In Head Start
Due to the provisions in the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-134), any child enrolled in Head Start is now automatically eligible for free meals provided by the USDA National School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Attached to this Information Memorandum is a letter from the Director of the Child Nutrition Division within the Food and Nutrition Service that provides guidance to state agencies and child nutrition programs regarding automatic eligibility for free meal benefits to Head Start children. Reimbursable meals, not previously claimed at the free rate that were served December 12, 2007 and beyond to Head Start children, may now be claimed for reimbursement.
USDA Costs Narrative
This narrative from the Fiscal Assistant provides information on calculating United State's Department of Agriculture (USDA) reimbursement for Head Start food costs. Grantees and delegate agencies will find this information useful when considering USDA reimbursement for meal services.
Nothing is more important than providing food when people find themselves suddenly, and often critically, in need following a storm, earthquake, flood or other disaster emergency. USDA makes sure that people have enough to eat. In situations where a natural disaster has occurred and children are still able to congregate in schools or Head Start centers, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service provides administrative accommodations to ensure continuation of meal program benefits. Accommodations are situation-specific and are based on State agency's recommendations for providing relief to individual School Food Authorities and/or child care institutions. Grantees will find this information useful when confronted with disaster situations while safeguarding children in their care.
USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2011. English.
Last Reviewed: October 2011
Last Updated: September 8, 2015