Research brief: Family childcare home providers need more CACFP funding to provide healthy meals and snacks to young children

Oct 5, 2023

New research highlights the need for increased funding in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program to ensure family childcare home providers can offer nutritious meals and snacks to young children.CACFP serves nutritious meals and snacks to over 4.2 million children in childcare, annually. Family childcare home providers in CACFP receive reimbursements —Tier 1 or Tier 2 rates—based on their income or being in a low-income community. Tiering was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and resumed on June 30, 2023. Nutrition Policy Institute researchers, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, CACFP Roundtable, and the California Department of Social Services, conducted interviews with Tier 1 and Tier 2 providers in California to understand the impact of tiering. Interviews revealed that CACFP supports families by ensuring children receive nutritious meals and reducing their financial burdens. Providers from both tiers advocated for eliminating tiered reimbursements and increasing rates to balance rising food costs and ensure fair compensation. Due to lower reimbursements coupled with inflation-driven increases in food, labor, and supply costs, providers are considering offering fewer meals, leaving CACFP or increasing fees for parents. The proposed Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act offers potential solutions, seeking to eliminate tiered reimbursements, provide a $0.10 reimbursement increase tied to inflation, and enable providers to claim reimbursement for their children's meals when served with other children in their care. NPI researcher Celeste Felix and collaborators will present preliminary study findings at the Annual CACFP Conference on October 19 at 2:45 p.m. This work was supported by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

By Danielle Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement