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Food and Nutrition Programs

Child and Adult Care Food Program

CACFP Updates
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What is the Child and Adult Care Food Program?

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federally-funded program from the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In Massachusetts, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) administers the CACFP. The CACFP provides supplemental reimbursement to participating organizations for the provision of nutritious foods. All meals and snacks served must meet federal guidelines and be offered at no separate cost to participants.

What Types of Institutions Can Participate?

Child Care Centers — Includes licensed or approved non-residential, public or private non-profit child care centers, Head Start centers, settlement houses, and neighborhood centers. For-profit child care centers may also participate if they meet certain criteria for serving low-income children.

Family Day Care Homes — Family day care homes provide care in a licensed or approved private home for a small group of children. Family or group day care homes must be administered by a sponsoring organization that maintains Federal and State regulations and prepares a monthly food reimbursement claim.

"At-Risk" After School Care Programs — Community based programs that offer enrichment activities for children and teenagers through the age of 18, after the regular school day ends. Programs must be offered in areas where at least 50% of the children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals based upon the school data.

Emergency Shelters — Programs which provide residential and food services to homeless children may receive reimbursement for serving up to three meals each day to homeless children through age 18, who reside there.

Adult Day Health Care Centers — Licensed day health care centers for seniors (aged 60 or older) or functionally impaired adults may receive reimbursements under the adult component of the CACFP. For-profit agencies are also eligible if they meet certain criteria for serving low-income people.

How Are Meals Reimbursed?

Approved institutions are reimbursed at either the free, reduced, or paid rate for the meals and snacks served to eligible participants. The rate of meal reimbursement is either based on household income of participants or physical location where the program operates (at-risk afterschool and family day care providers, only). When considering household income, see current Income Eligibility Guidelines for the most current data. Please note: Family day care homes are reimbursed through a mechanism that is processed and managed by the sponsoring organization.

For specific reimbursement rates by meal type, see the USDA notice.

For more information on the CACFP, please contact a member of the Special Nutrition Programs Team.

How Can an Organization Get Involved?

There are two ways for institutions to be involved in the CACFP—as a Sponsoring Organization or as a Site. Sponsoring Organizations assume the total financial and administrative responsibility for operating the Program, and Sites are the operational location where meals are served. An institution can serve in one or both capacities.

Please note that programs interested in participating as a Sponsoring Organization must:

  • Be licensed, or alternatively licensed by the appropriate agency
  • Be actively operating and serving meals to program participants for at least two weeks
  • Be appropriately permitted by the local board of health for meal service (please note if your local board of health does not require your Institution to have a meal service permit, MA DESE will require that decision in writing)
  • (For-profit sponsors only) Have at least 25% of enrollment or 25% license capacity (whichever is less) receive Title XX (vouchers), Title XIX (Medicaid), or be eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

If your organization meets these requirements and is interested in participating in the CACFP as a Sponsoring Organization, there are several steps involved with onboarding and approval, including:

  1. Between September 1st and April 30th, interested Institutions can complete the New CACFP Sponsor Interest Form. Please email Shannon Raymond and Irene Sedlacko with any questions about completing this form.
    • New Sponsor Interest Forms will not be accepted between May 1st and September 1st.
  2. Eligible institutions will be contacted and required to complete introductory trainings prior to receiving the new sponsor application.
  3. Once provided, Institutions will have 60 days to complete the application and return it to FNP.
  4. Applications will be reviewed by FNP staff, and final steps of onboarding, processing, and approval will be specific to each applicant.

Last Updated: March 17, 2024

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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