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District of Columbia (USDA/FNS, 2010b). The effective date of the final rule to add suppers was May 3, 2010 (USDA/FNS, 2010c).

Emergency Shelters

Public or private nonprofit emergency shelters that provide residential and food services to homeless children have been eligible to participate in CACFP since July 1, 1999. Eligible shelters may receive reimbursement for serving up to three meals each day to homeless children, through age 18, who reside there. A shelter does not have to be licensed to provide day care, but it must meet any health and safety codes that are required by state or local law (USDA/FNS, 2010b).


Age Groups

Section 226.2 of the USDA regulations describes who may receive CACFP meal benefits. Participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Children ages 12 years and under, or ages 15 years and under who are children of migrant workers;

  • For emergency shelters, persons ages 18 years and under;

  • For at-risk afterschool care centers, persons ages 18 years and under at the start of the school year;

  • Persons of any age who have one or more disabilities, as determined by the state, and who are enrolled in an institution or child care facility serving a majority of persons who are ages 18 years and under;

  • Provider’s own children only in a specific low-income situation called tier I day care homes (see description in the section “Meal Reimbursements”) and only when other nonresidential children are enrolled in the day care home and are participating in the meal service; and

  • Adult participants who are functionally impaired or 60 years of age or older and who remain in the community (USDA/FNS, 2010b).


In 1968, CACFP began as a small 3-year pilot program called the Special Food Service Program for Children. It arose as part of an effort to create an affordable food program for low-income working mothers. Initially, the program provided grants to states to serve meals when schools were not in session. Table 2-2 shows the chronological development and legislative milestones of CACFP. Of special note are (1) the expansion of eligibility, in 1976, to family child care homes that either meet state licensing requirements

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