Health Policy

How CACFP-Participating Home Child Care Providers Purchase, Prepare, and Serve Healthy Foods: A Qualitative Study

Thompson, H.; Askelson, N.M.; Boudreau, H.


The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that reimburses child care providers for nutritious meals and snacks served by child care centers and home daycares. CACFP nutrition standards are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, scientific recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine, and input from stakeholders.

Providers are paid meal reimbursements for meals that meet CACFP meal requirements. In order to qualify for reimbursement, providers must submit food production records and invoices to a CACFP contact showing the meals follow CACFP nutrition standards. Meal and snack reimbursement rates depend on provider location, according to current school or census information, and income. To participate in CACFP, providers must have a Department of Human Services registration or be a current Child Care Assistance home provider.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand how CACFP-participating home child care providers purchase, prepare, and serve foods. We also sought to identify facilitators and challenges to practices around incorporating healthy, CACFP creditable foods.