Background  Minimize 

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) child care centers have an opportunity to positively impact children’s wellness, growth and development by encouraging and teaching healthy habits at a young age. Implementing a CACFP recognition award for child care centers that plan and serve nutritious meals and snacks, encourage physical activity, and provide a healthy learning environment will assist contracting entities (CE) in meeting wellness goals and recognize their achievements. 

The Healthier CACFP Recognition Award is a recognition award program system initiated by USDA that supports the wellness efforts of child care centers participating in CACFP. Child care centers who have taken steps to improve their meals and snacks, physical activity, nutrition education and child care environment can apply to win an award in one or more of these categories. The Healthier CACFP Recognition Award includes three award levels with varying criteria:  Bronze, Silver and Gold.  Participation and compliance with the CACFP regulations is required to be eligible for the award. Applicants are required to be in good standing with the program, defined as having completed and implemented all corrective actions from the previous compliance review and having not been seriously deficient in the past two years, at the time of application.

Anticipated Outcomes  Minimize 

The purpose of the Healthier CACFP Recognition Award is to expand and complement established efforts to improve early child care menus, nutrition education, physical activity and the child care environment. Anticipated outcomes include improving the quality of foods served; instilling pride in contracting entities (CE); recognizing the importance of CEs; and easing the transition to the proposed CACFP meal pattern. With one in five children overweight or obese by the age of 6, child care centers play an essential role in the prevention of childhood obesity. 

Recommendations  Minimize 

The recommended approach to initiating the Healthier CACFP Recognition Award is through the Establishing 3E’s Nutrition Grant Program (E3E). The E3E’s grants promote better health and nutrition programs to prevent the incidence of childhood obesity among preschool children (aged 6 and under) in the state. The program’s objectives include increasing awareness of the importance of good nutrition and encouraging children’s health and well-being through Education, Exercise and Eating right. 

The E3E’s grant program is intended for CACFP child care CEs (independent or sponsor) to establish a Healthier CACFP Recognition Award program or a community organizations to extend or establish wellness programs. Grant funds are used to establish and implement a comprehensive wellness effort to achieve either Bronze, Silver or Gold status including activities to improve:

(a) nutrition quality of meals and snacks served (menus) 

(b) physical activity

(c) nutrition education

(d) and/or the child care environment

Applicants are required, at a minimum, to improve the quality of the menus according to the award level chosen plus implement improvements in at least one other area of wellness (e.g. physical activity, nutrition education and/or environment). The CE applies for E3E’s grants by responding to the request for application (RFA) through the Grants Division of the Texas Department of Agriculture and submitting the application per instructions. Grant awards are based on the merit of the RFA response and scores by the reviewers.

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Texas Department of Agriculture
Commissioner Sid Miller