Guidance for Implementing the Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns

This resource provides guiding questions and tips to support implementation of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal patterns in early childhood programs. It also identifies the Head Start Performance Standards (HSPPS) that support CACFP meal pattern requirements.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Determine who are the stakeholders. Who plays a role in your CACFP implementation currently?

Make lists of internal and external individuals and organizations. Consider if there are any additional stakeholders that will play a role in helping you to achieve your implementation goals for the meal patterns and add them to your lists.

Brainstorm the information you will need to share with stakeholders or to answer questions they may have.

Increasing Whole Grains

Brainstorm how your program can increase whole grains. What are small or simple changes you can make? Which changes will take more effort?

Think about the adjustments you can start making now to prepare children, staff, and families. What will be the biggest hurdles? Can you transition gradually? Do you need to identify new recipes?

Serving Less Juice in Your Program

Consider the expectations of children, families, and staff related to juice. How can you ease the transition to less juice being served?

Identify changes you need to make so that water is available and offered to children throughout the day. What supplies will you need? How can you prepare children, families, and staff?

Minimizing Waste with the CACFP Meal Patterns

Acknowledge that introducing new food items can be challenging. What strategies have proved most useful for introducing new foods? Are there resources that have been particularly helpful? How have you adapted your menus over time to include new food items?

Promoting Breastfeeding

Think about how your program currently promotes breastfeeding. Do you share information with families? Do you have a private, comfortable space for breastfeeding?

Brainstorm ways to communicate with parents about providing breastmilk and breastfeeding onsite. What information will parents need and when?

Alignment with the HSPPS

Below are the HSPPS that directly support CACFP meal pattern requirements: