Food and Nutrition Programs

Child and Adult Care Food Program

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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.

If your organization is interested in participating in the CACFP as a Sponsoring Organization, there are several steps involved with onboarding and approval. These steps for onboarding include:

  1. Complete all required components outlined in the New Sponsor LOI Form . Please email the LOI Form with all required documents to Shannon Raymond and Irene Sedlacko.
  2. Eligible institutions will be invited to a New Sponsor training which outlines all program requirements and provides institutions with an application.
  3. Institutions will have 60 days from the training 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.

If your organization is interested in serving as a site under another Sponsoring Organization, please contact send an email to Shannon Raymond with the following information:

  1. Name, location, and type of program (i.e., afterschool program, child care center, etc.)
  2. Meal/snack service currently being offered and how meals are provided

Administrative Review Procedures for the Child and Adult Care Food Program
Institutions that participate in the CACFP are required to participate in State level monitoring to ensure program integrity. Monitoring is conducted by MA DESE employees and can include an on-site visit and a record review of all program documents. Institutions are monitored every 2–3 years, based on the size of their sponsorship. For more details on program monitoring, please contact Irene Sedlacko.

Due to the release of the handbook entitled "Serious Deficiency, Suspension, and Appeals for State Agencies and Sponsoring Organizations" in February 2015, the Department has determined it was necessary to revise its procedures for Administrative Review.

The regulations and guidelines of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP or Program) under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide for administrative review of certain actions taken by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department). The regulations governing administrative review can be found at 7 CFR 226.6(k). The administrative review process is also discussed in a handbook entitled "Serious Deficiency, Suspension, & Appeals for State Agencies & Sponsoring Organizations". Please refer to this handbook for additional explanations and information.

Last Updated: July 18, 2021

 
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