About the Food Program

about CACFP

Find out what the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), often referred to as the "Food Program" is, how it works, and how it benefits children, their families, and child care providers.


What is the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)?

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) or the "Food Program" is federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Food Program is designed to ensure that children in child care get the best possible nutrition, to help them grow up strong and healthy and to assist in establishing healthy eating habits for life. As participants of the Food Program, child care providers receive monetary reimbursement for serving meals that meet federal nutritional guidelines, plus training and education to make the best nutrition choices when feeding children. Each day more than 3.3 million children across the country receive nutritious meals and snacks through the Food Program. These nutritious meals provide children with the nutrients they need for their young bodies and minds to develop.

"Reimbursement is a blessing. Feeding nutritious meals and snacks is what I want to do." -- Nutrition Works Food Program participant

Find out how to join the Food Program in Idaho!

Benefits of the Food Program

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) benefits children, their parents, child care providers, and the community.

For Children: Good nutrition, especially in the first three years of life, is key to building a solid foundation that can impact a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity.1 Children participating in the Food Program are provided meals that must meet USDA nutrition requirements. These meals benefit the growth and wellbeing of the child while also instilling healthy habits that may impact their future health.  
1Feeding America (2016). Child Development. Retrieved from:

"The kids eat much healthier and are often introduced to foods they don't get at home." -- Nutrition Works Food Program participant

For Child Care Providers: Child care Food Program providers are able to afford to serve more nutritious meals to children in their care. In addition, nutrition training is offered each year, expanding the knowledge of participating Food Program child care providers. Training is at no cost and may also count toward your annual licensing training hours and IdahoSTARS Professional Development System (PDS). Lastly, participation in the Food Program is an indicator of quality child care. Participation indicates to parents the dedication to nutritious meal service for their children and to providing a high standard of child care.

"It has allowed us to feed more nutritious meals daily without having to worry about a bottom line. It has given us freedom to serve better." -- Nutrition Works Food Program participant

For Families: Parents know that their child/children receive high quality, nutritious meals at no extra cost through the child care Food Program. Children with access to nutritious meals are less likely to experience illness or fatigue, are less likely to exhibit challenging behaviors, and be an all-around happier child.2 Plus parents will save time and money by not having to supply meals or snacks.
2Retrieved from:

"I love it!!! I have learned so much and have changed the way I feed the children in my care. They eat healthier as much of what I make is homemade. Parents come and ask how do I fix a particular meal as their child wants it at home too." -- Nutrition Works Food Program participant

Find out how to join the Food Program in Idaho!

How Does the Food Program Work?

Qualifying child care Food Program providers serve USDA approved meals and snacks and comply with daily recordkeeping requirements.  Access and use of the online recordkeeping system, Minute Menu/KidKare, is supplied free-of-charge to our participating child care Food Program providers. Child care providers receive reimbursement—up to two meals and one snack or two snacks and one meal, per child, per day – in the month following the claim month, on the 3rd Friday. In addition, nutrition training and resources, monitoring visits, and assistance with Food Program procedures are provided by Nutrition Works throughout the year.

"Love the program. Everyone that I have spoken with by phone or who have visited my child care have been friendly, professional and provide useful information." -- Nutrition Works Food Program participant

Find out how to join the Food Program in Idaho!