As Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers across the country begin transitioning to the USDA’s updated nutritional standards—the first revision to the meal patterns since the program’s inception nearly 50 years ago—Neighborhood House Association (NHA) remains committed to serving healthy, balanced meals to the thousands of children, seniors and veterans each year. Since NHA’s Nutrition Services Program overhauled its Head Start menu 10 years ago, the agency has led the way in developing a nutritious preschool menu, and is pleased to see the country moving forward in a positive direction for the health of children.
The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a collaboration between The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, published a study in July that assessed the likely effects of USDA’s updated nutrition standards for CACFP providers. NHA was highlighted for its supportive approach towards teaching preschool-aged Head Start children about healthy eating and offering a menu that is in many ways, already supporting the new CACFP meal pattern guidelines.
The study found:
- The nutritional quality of CACFP-funded meals and snacks should improve from updated standards, increasing children’s intake of whole grains and vegetables, decreasing their consumption of grain-based desserts, and having a positive overall impact on their health.
- Nutrition education, training, and technical assistance, along with increased service of nutrient dense meals and snacks at early care and education settings, may positively affect providers’, parents’ and children’s attitudes toward healthy foods.
- All children under the care of a provider following CACFP standards, even those whose meals may not be eligible for reimbursement, would probably benefit from the nutritional updates.