Begin Main Content Area

Child and Adult Care Food Program

Overview of the CACFP

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is administered at the federal level by the USDA and at the state level by the PA Department of Education, Division of Food and Nutrition. The CACFP provides reimbursement for meals served to enrolled participants in non-residential child or adult care facilities. The primary intent of the program is to improve the diets of children and adults and to develop healthful eating habits through the service of nutritious meals and the provision of nutrition education activities.

Who May Participate?

Child and adult care facilities may participate in the CACFP if they are:

  • Licensed, non-profit, non-residential child or adult care centers;
  • Licensed, for-profit, non-residential child or adult care center which receive Title XIX or XX funding for at least 25% of either enrolled participants or the licensed capacity of the center,
  • Licensed, for-profit, non-residential child care centers where 25% of the enrolled children or the licensed capacity are income eligible for free and reduced meals;
  • Licensed, registered and approved family or group day care homes operated in a residence; or
  • Emergency shelters.

Benefits of participation

Child and Adult care center benefits include:

  • Reimbursement for meals served to enrolled participants.
  • Federally donated commodities or cash in lieu of commodities;
  • Technical assistance for administration of the CACFP;
  • Nutrition education materials; and
  • Annual training sessions and workshops.


  • Children and adults are eligible to participate if they are:

    • Traditional Child Care
      • Birth to 12 years of age
      • Migrant children birth to 15 years of age
      • Persons with disabilities
    • Head Start and Pre-K Counts
      • 3 to 5 years of age
    • Early Head Start
      • Birth to 2 years of age
    • Outside School Hours
      • Birth to school age 12 and under
      • Migrant children birth to 15 years of age
      • Persons with disabilities
    • At-Risk Afterschool Program
      • Birth to 18 years of age
    • Emergency Shelters
      • Birth to 18 years of age
    • Adult Care
      • Adults over 60 years of age
      • Functionally impaired adults 19 to 59 years of age

Requirements for participation

  • Demonstrate and maintain CACFP Performance Standards of Financial Viability, Administrative Capability and Program Accountability
  • Ensure that meals served meet the meal pattern requirements;
  • File accurate claims for reimbursement;
  • Ensure proper storage and use of donated commodities;
  • Comply with requirements related to the financial management of the Program;
  • Accept final administrative and financial responsibility for operating the Program; and
  • Establish procedures to collect and maintain all necessary Program records from sponsored centers.


  • Facilities may receive reimbursement for up to 2 meals and 1 snack, or 2 snacks and 1 meal per enrolled participant per day.
  • Reimbursement is based on the type and the number of meals served.
  • Reimbursement rates are adjusted annually.

Story of the CACFP

1968- P.L. 90-302 authorized the Special Food Service Program for Children (SFSPFC) as a three-year pilot program and provided reimbursement specifically limited to meals served in day care centers, settlement houses, and recreation centers.

1972- P.L. 92-433 extended SFSPFC authorization through Fiscal Year 1975.

1975- P.L. 84-105 added Section 17 to the National School Lunch Act, establishing and authorizing for three years,

  • Required child care facilities to meet certain licensing or approval standards to participate;
  • Extended eligibility to include any private or non-profit organization providing non-residential child care services, regardless of location-specifically including Head Start programs, family and group day care homes, and sponsoring organizations; and
  • Structured application procedures on the National School Lunch Program�s free and reduced price eligibility requirements, based on the household size and income of each enrolled child.

1978- P.L. 95-627 CCFP was permanently authorized to address the availability of advance payments, a broader definition of "children" to include disabled persons over 18 years of age and the expansion of eligibility to include outside-school-hours care centers.

1981- P.L. 97-35 reduced the eligibility age limit from 18 to 12 years of age, except for migrant children and disabled persons, and set a limit on the maximum number of reimbursable meals to two meals and one snack per child per day.

1982- P.L. 97-370 limited submission of reimbursement claims to 60 days following the claim month.

1988- P.L. 100-435 allowed the claiming of an additional meal for children in care at centers for eight or more hours per day.

1989- P.L. 101-147 authorized two-year applications and changed the name of the CCFP to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

1994- P.L. 103-448 further amended the renewal application process to allow three-year applications and provided categorical eligibility for Head Start and Even Start program enrollees.

1996 - P.L. 104-193 reduced the number of meals per child per day to three and implemented means testing for day care home reimbursements.

1998- P.L. 105-336 consolidated benefits for homeless children under the CACFP and expanded the program to include an at risk after-school program for children through the age of 18 in low-income areas.

​Pennsylvania Department of Education
Bureau of Budget and Fiscal Management
Division of Food and Nutrition

333 Market Street, 4th Floor

Harrisburg, PA 17126

717-787-7698 or 800-331-0129

Child and Adult Care Program –