Policy Resource

New Jersey Explores Strategies for Improving Access to Nutritious Meals in Child Care

May 31, 2018

Advocates for Children of New Jersey and Reinvestment Fund recently released Nourishing Our Youngest Children: How to Expand the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

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The Nourishing Our Youngest Children: How to Expand the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) report examines child care providers’ participation in CACFP and offers recommendations for increasing enrollment so more children will benefit from this critical nutrition program. CACFP is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and provides money to child care providers for serving nutritious snacks and meals, as well as training for the adults working in the programs. According to the report, providers receiving CACFP agree that it is a valuable program for addressing childhood hunger and instilling healthy eating habits. Unfortunately, thousands of New Jersey children do not have access to the program.

The report identifies several challenges to participating in CACFP, including low federal reimbursement rates for food and burdensome paperwork requirements. New Jersey is introducing a new electronic record-keeping system to try to address the administrative challenges. The report offers additional recommendations for:

  • Improving food quality
  • Expanding training opportunities
  • Reducing paperwork for programs and
  • Engaging sponsors and sites in underserved communities.

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