and other types of support to plan menus that meet the recommended Meal Requirements and that are realistic for their situation.
The recommended Meal Requirements increase overall food costs in CACFP mainly because of increased amounts and variety of fruits and vegetables for many age groups at lunch/supper and snacks, the addition of meat/meat alternates at breakfast (balanced only in part by reductions of meat/meat alternates at lunch for the younger children), and increases in the amount of whole grain-rich foods for some age groups. For example, using 2003–2004 prices, the combined cost of breakfast, lunch, and a regular snack is estimated to increase by $0.30, or 31 percent, for children 1 year of age, and by $0.56, or 44 percent, for children 2–4 years of age.
Non-food meal costs are expected to increase initially, to vary with the provider setting and with the extent to which the provider has already implemented changes similar to those recommended, and to be influenced substantially by the quality and extent of technical assistance provided. An increased need for training may persist but will be accompanied by improvements in food service and nutrition education, especially in larger centers.
The expected increase in costs will likely exceed the amount that can be absorbed by CACFP providers under current federal reimbursement levels. If the recommended Meal Requirements are fully implemented, continued participation by most providers will require an increase in reimbursement.
The new recommended Meal Requirements (meal patterns and food specification standards) will result in menus that are more closely aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the DRIs than are the menus based on the current regulations. Notably, the recommended Meal Requirements may increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grain-rich foods, and lean meats, while decreasing the intake of solid fats, added sugars, and sodium. Initially, however, most providers will need considerable technical assistance in order to implement the recommended Meal Requirements without undue difficulty. With appropriate reimbursement and implementation strategies, the committee anticipates that providers’ acceptance of the recommended changes in meals and snacks are achievable and that participation rates can be maintained or enhanced.