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TABLE 2-1 General Aspects of Current CACFP Meal Requirements

Eating Occasion

Current Requirements


Must meet daily pattern, which may differ by age group and setting. The pattern specifies the number of meal components (shown below) and the amount of each.


3 meal components

Lunch or supper

4 meal components


Any 2 of 4 components

Meal Component



Any fruit and/or vegetable


Enriched or whole grain


None required at breakfast, no restrictions on types


No restrictions

Food Component



No requirement


No requirement


No restrictions


No restrictions

SOURCE: Adapted from USDA/FNS, 2010a.

To receive reimbursement for the meals and snacks served, participating programs are required to provide meals and snacks according to requirements set by USDA. In this report, the term meal component refers to the food groups required in the meals, and the term food component refers to nutrients and other substances contained in food. General aspects of the current CACFP Meal Requirements are shown in Table 2-1.


CACFP is administered in three major types of day care settings, whether for children or adults: family or group homes, centers, and independent centers. The entity responsible for administering the local program depends on the type of setting, as shown in Figure 2-1. Independent centers report directly to the state CACFP agency, whereas other centers and family or group homes must operate under the auspices of a sponsoring organization. A community action agency is a common example of a sponsoring organization. For further information, see the section “Administration and Regulations, Overview.”

Sponsoring organizations and independent centers (see Figure 2-1) enter into agreements with their state administering agency to assume administrative and financial responsibility for CACFP operations at the local level, and each state CACFP agency administers the program within the

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