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Meal Requirements is to contribute to more healthful food and nutrient intakes by CACFP participants, especially in view of the high prevalence of obesity in the United States. As defined by the committee, the recommended Meal Requirements encompass both new meal patterns and new food specifications. The meal patterns are food-based targets that will promote intakes of healthy foods from five food groups: fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean meats or meat alternates. The food specifications provide guidance on choices within these food groups that will lead to meals that have appropriate calorie levels and reduced amounts of solid fat, added sugars, and sodium. Although the impact of changes in the Meal Requirements on the daily food and nutrient intakes of CACFP participants cannot be predicted accurately, the recommended changes to the current Meal Requirements will likely improve the nutritional quality of the foods that are made available through the program. This, in turn, may have an indirect beneficial effect on food choices made outside the program, thus improving the overall nutritional status of participants.

Consistency of the Meal Requirement Recommendations with Criterion One

First Meal Requirement Recommendation

The first of the committee’s recommendations addresses Meal Requirements for infants and young children:

USDA should adopt the recommended Meal Requirements for healthy infants up to 1 year of age.

This recommendation brings infant feeding recommendations into alignment with guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), consistent with Criterion 1a.

Criterion 1: The Meal Requirements will be consistent with current dietary guidance and nutrition recommendations to promote health with the ultimate goal of improving participants’ diets by reducing the prevalence of inadequate and excessive intakes of food, nutrients, and calories.

  1. For infants and children younger than 2 years of age, the Meal Requirements will contribute to an overall diet that is consistent with established dietary recommendations for this age group and encourage and support breastfeeding for infants.

  2. For participants ages 2 years and older, the Meal Requirements will be exemplified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes.

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