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Changes in Cost by Age Groups

The committee was unable to estimate the average increase in the cost of meals and snacks across all the age groups served because data were lacking on the distribution of the meals and snacks served across the eating occasions by age group. As shown in Chapter 2, Table 2-3, the distribution of participants in different settings is very uneven, with the largest number in child care and the smallest number in adult day care. Very limited evidence suggests that, for young children, the majority of CACFP providers seek reimbursement for two meals and one snack (Personal communication, J. Hirschman, August 2–4, 2010). Data on the distribution of meals and snacks from the 1997 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Consumer Service (FCS) Early Childhood and Child Care Study (USDA/FCS, 1997) are of limited value, especially because the study preceded the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 1998, which authorized reimbursement for snacks for children up to age 18 in afterschool care programs.

Consequently, the estimates of changes in costs of meal combinations presented here are restricted to those applicable to the two largest groups being served—(1) young children and (2) youth in at-risk afterschool programs—and to specified meal combinations (see Table 8-3).

As expected, the costs of the meal combinations reflect the underlying changes in the individual meal costs. The lower or relatively small increases in the cost of the regular snack are outweighed by increases in the cost of supper. Serving the enhanced snack rather than one regular snack with supper would greatly increase the cost to providers for the at-risk afterschool care program. The estimated cost of the enhanced snack is twice that of the regular snack, namely $0.66 for 5–13-year-olds, $1.02 for 14–18-year-olds, and $0.80 for adults. This means, for example, there would be an

TABLE 8-3 Estimated Cost Changes for CACFP Meals and Snacks Served to Children Ages 1–4 Years and to Youth Ages 5–18 Years Given Specified Meal Combinations

Age Group

Meal Combinations

Change in Cost ($)

Percentage Change in Cost (%)

1 y

Breakfast, lunch, and snack



2–4 y

Breakfast, lunch, and snack



5–13 y

Regular snack and supper



14–18 y

Regular snack and supper



NOTE: CACFP = Child and Adult Care Food Program; y = year(s).

SOURCE: Cost data based on representative food composites from Minute Menu Systems, LLC (based on data obtained from family day care homes during August 2009 and February 2010) (Minute Menu Systems, LLC, 2008) and USDA/CNPP Price Database, 2003–2004 prices (USDA/CNPP, 2009) (see Appendix I).

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