We endorse the need to update the CACFP, and urge USDA to make the necessary changes to the proposed rule.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on “Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revision Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” (7 CFR Parts 210, 215, 220, and 226 (January 15, 2015)). We commend USDA for updating the meal pattern and nutrition standards for the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which benefits many infants and toddlers in child care. This is an important opportunity to strengthen the child nutrition programs’ role in ensuring our youngest children receive the nutrition they need for healthy development while helping to address hunger and prevent the first steps toward obesity.
ZERO TO THREE is a national nonprofit whose mission is to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life. We translate the science of early childhood development for parents, professionals and policymakers to help them nurture early development across all domains of development.
We agree with USDA that the goal of improving good nutrition for low-income children in child care and afterschool programs is best served by a balanced approach that improves nutrition while allowing providers to continue to afford participation in CACFP. An updated food program, offering meals consistent with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines will provide much-needed good nutrition to infants and toddlers in child care programs. Beneficial aspects include a greater variety of vegetables and fruits, more whole grains, and less sugar and fat and specific attention to supporting parents in their approach to feeding their infants. To ensure very young children get the full value from the proposed improvements we offer the following comments.
A focus on nutrition starting from birth is important, because early nutrition and feeding habits can have long-lasting effects on physical and cognitive development. We therefore appreciate the attention given to infant meal patterns and feeding and note the important role CACFP plays in promoting appropriate nutrition for very young children. Few states provide strong regulatory requirements for licensed providers in the area of nutrition, particularly for infants. In that regard, we have several recommendations that apply specifically to infants.
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