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Child and Adult Care Food Program: Aligning Dietary Guidance for All
Formula for Determining Target CalorieLevels for Meals and Snacks
The general formula used to identify target calorie levels is
Target meal calories =
Mean energy requirement for age group × mean % of calories in meal.
For example, for children ages 2–years, the NHANES data indicated that children in this age range obtain an average of 20 percent of total calories from breakfast. Using this information the target calorie level for breakfast for this age group was calculated as follows:
some of the eating occasions were adjusted slightly to 32 percent for lunch and supper and 14 percent for snacks. This was done to allow for more calories in snacks and, for reasons of practicality, to make the target calorie levels for lunch and supper the same.
The committee recognizes that some children and adults with limited access to food or with substantially higher calorie needs might benefit from meals or snacks that provide substantially more calories (and nutrients). In the committee’s view, however, this situation does not provide the basis for increasing the target calorie levels for CACFP meals and snacks. For children ages 5 years and older and for adults, however, the committee proposed an enhanced snack (see Chapter 7). In addition, family-style meal service, which currently is an option for child care facilities, offers the opportunity to balance the needs of those who need less food (because they are smaller or less hungry) with those who need more. To address the higher needs of vulnerable children and adults, child and adult care programs should use other mechanisms such as referrals to other community nutrition assistance programs (especially including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to help ensure that they and their households have access to sufficient food.
Nutrient Targets for Protein, Vitamins, and Minerals
In setting the nutrient targets for CACFP meals and snacks, the committee followed the methodology developed and implemented by the School Meals committee (IOM,2010). This methodology—referred to as the “Target Median Intake Approach ”—was based on the methods recommended