CACFP Meal Patterns
CACFP meal patterns ensure participating children and adults have access to healthy, balanced meals, laying the foundation for a healthy eating pattern for children and adults in care.

Infant Meal Pattern

The infant meal patterns support breastfeeding and enhance the nutritional quality of CACFP meals for infants.

Encourage and Support Breastfeeding

  • Providers may receive reimbursement for meals when a breastfeeding mother comes to the day care center or home and directly breastfeeds her infant
  • Only breastmilk and infant formula are served to infants 0 through 5 months old

Developmentally Appropriate Meals

  • There are two age groups: 0 through 5 months old and 6 through 11 months old 
  • Solid foods are gradually introduced around 6 months of age, as developmentally appropriate

More Nutritious Meals

  • A vegetable or fruit, or both, is required to be served as a snack for infants 6 through 11 months old
  • No longer allows juice or cheese food or cheese spread to be serve
  • Allows ready-to-eat cereals at snack time

Visit the CACFP Resources page to view a downloadable version of the entire CACFP Meal Pattern brochure.

Child and Adult Meal Pattern

Greater Variety of Vegetables and Fruits

  • The combined fruit and vegetable component are now a separate vegetable component and a separate fruit component
  • Juice is limited to once per day, across all eating occasions

More Whole Grains

  • At least one serving per day across all eating occasions must be whole grain-rich
  • Grain-based desserts no longer count towards the grain component

More Protein Options

  • Meat and meat alternates may be served in place of the entire grains component at breakfast a maximum of three times per week
  • Tofu counts as a meat alternate

Age Appropriate Meals

  • A new age group addresses the needs of older children 13 through 18 years old

Less Added Sugar

  • Yogurt must contain no more than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces
  • Breakfast cereals must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce

Making Every Sip Count

  • Unflavored whole milk must be served to children 1-year old to 23 months1-year olds
  • Unflavored low-fat or fat-free milk must be served to children 2 through 5 years old
  • Unflavored low-fat, unflavored fat-free, or flavored fat-free milk must be served to children 6 years old and older and adults
  • Non-dairy milk substitutes that are nutritionally equivalent to milk may be served in place of milk
  • Yogurt may be served in place of milk once per day for adults only

Additional Improvements

  • Offer versus serve is now available to at-risk afterschool programs
  • Frying is not allowed as a way of preparing foods on-site

Note: The changes made to the federal CACFP meal patterns are based on the Dietary Guideline for Americans, scientific recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine, and stakeholder input.

Visit the CACFP Resources page to view a downloadable version of the entire CACFP Meal Pattern brochure.

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
Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
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Texas Department of Agriculture

Commissioner Sid Miller

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