CACFP meal patterns lay the foundation for a healthy eating pattern for children and adults in care. USDA has also developed the following optional best practices that build on the meal patterns and highlight areas where centers and day care homes may take additional steps to further improve the nutritional quality of the meals they serve.
- Support mothers who chose to breastfeed their infants by encouraging mothers to supply breastmilk for their infant in day care and offer a quiet, private area that is comfortable an sanitary for mothers who come to the center or day care home to breastfeed.
Vegetables and Fruits
- Make at least one of the two required components of a snack a vegetable or a fruit. Serve a variety of Fruits and choose whole fruits (fresh, canned, dried or frozen) more often than juice.
- Provide at least one serving each of dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas (legumes), starchy vegetables and other vegetables once per week.
- Provide at least two servings of whole grain-rich grains per day.
Meat and Meat Alternates
- Serve only lean meats, nuts and legumes.
- Limit serving processed meats to no more than one serving per week.
- Serve only natural cheeses and choose low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses.
- Serve only unflavored milk to all participants. If flavored milk is served to children 6 years old and older, or adults,use the Nutrition Facts Label to select and serve flavored milk that contains no more than 22 grams of sugar per 8 fluid ounces, or the flavored milk with the lowest amount of sugar is flavored milk within this sugar limit is not available.
- Serve water as a beverage when serving yogurt in place of milk for adults.
Note: The best practices reflect recommendations from the Dietary Guideline for Americans and the National Academy of Medicine to further help increase participants' consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and reduce the consumption of added sugars and saturated fats.