A Senate bill would ease eligibility for an important Agriculture Dept. (USDA) child-nutrition program and provide $100 million in state grants to make it more streamlined and easier to administer.
The Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Act, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) would make significant improvements to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) (CFDA Number: 10.574), that provides meals to more than three million children each day who are in Head Start, Early Head Start and related child care programs. The bill would also authorize $20 million for capacity building grants.
In some states, the program also provides an important connection to home-based child care providers, including family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) caregivers, who may be isolated and have limited access to quality supports. CACFP reimburses caregivers for meals and snacks served to children in child care centers, preschools, family child care homes, after-school programs, and homeless shelters. The program includes regular visits to child care providers, as well as educational resources on healthy eating and good nutrition.
The Access to Healthy Food for Young Children Improvement Act would:
- Reduce the CACFP area eligibility test from 50% to 40% eligible to streamline access to healthy meals for young children in child care;
- Allow child care centers and homes the option of providing a third meal service (typically, supper or an afternoon snack) for children who are in care for eight or more hours daily;
- Increase CACFP reimbursements by 10 cents per meal type per tier to reduce participation declines and improve nutrition;
- Increase the Administrative Reimbursement Rate for CACFP sponsoring organizations by $5 per family child care home per month and protect rates from negative cost-of-living adjustments to sustain participation of family child care providers;
- Continue funding for the ongoing five-year cycle of child care and CACFP nutrition and wellness study authorized in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act; and,
- Authorize the continuation of the congressionally mandated CACFP paperwork reduction initiative, which includes a focus on maximizing the effective use of technology.