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  • Improved food packages provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC),

  • Nutrition standards for competitive foods offered or sold in the school setting, and

  • Revised Meal Requirements for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.

These recommendations are grounded in the sound nutritional guidance and nutrient standards of the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). This study of CACFP is a follow-up of the study to recommend revised standards and requirements for school meals. Like WIC and the school meal programs, CACFP is a nutrition assistance program that is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of USDA. CACFP serves infants, preschool children, and children younger than 12 years in child care centers and homes, older children in at-risk afterschool programs and emergency shelters; and disabled and older adults in adult day care centers. CACFP is also broad in the types of meals provided, which may include breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. Finally, the settings for CACFP meals are diverse, ranging from small family day care homes to large day care centers and schools.


USDA requested that the IOM convene a panel of experts to undertake a study to review and recommend revisions to the CACFP Meal Requirements. The major objective was to develop practical recommendations that would bring CACFP meals and snacks into alignment with current dietary guidance. Specifically, the committee was asked to

  • Review and assess the nutritional needs of the target populations based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the DRIs, and

  • Use that review as a basis for recommended revisions to the Meal Requirements for CACFP.

As part of its task, the committee was asked to consider certain critical issues identified by the FNS. The committee’s goal was to develop well-conceived, practical, and economical recommendations that reflect current nutritional science; to omit foods of low nutritional value; and to enhance the ability of the program to effectively meet the nutritional needs of the children and adults served.

Considering the broad scope of CACFP, the committee took a broad view of its assignment by developing Meal Requirements that could be

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