Child and Adult Care Food Program

To assist States, through grants-in-aid and other means, to initiate and maintain nonprofit food service programs for children, elderly or impaired adults in nonresidential day care facilities and children in emergency shelters.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - See Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Program Accomplishments


Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds are made available for disbursement to eligible institutions to reimburse their costs in providing meals and snacks to homeless children in emergency shelters and children and adults receiving nonresidential day care, including after school programs.

Disbursement is made on the basis of the number of lunches, suppers, breakfasts, and snacks served, using annually adjusted reimbursement rates specified by law.

Program institutions may receive reimbursement for not more than three meals per day, per participant.

The Program is available in child care centers and day care homes to children through the age of 12 years, except for the children of migrant workers, who may participate through the age of 15 years, and individuals with disabilities without regard to their age, if participating in a center or home where the majority of children are 18 years of age or younger.

In addition, the Program is available to children in emergency shelters through the age of 18.

In after school care programs, reimbursement is available for snacks (and suppers in eight States) served to children through age 18.

In adult day care centers, functionally impaired adults 18 years of age and older and adults 60 years of age and older who are not residents of an institution are eligible.

Meals must meet minimum requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Federal program funds for the Child and Adult Care Food Program are provided to each State agency in a Child Nutrition block grant along with program funds for the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Summer Food Service Program for Children, and the National School Lunch Program.

Congress has given some leeway to States to determine how this block of money will actually be allocated among these programs at the State level based on program needs.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

The State or U.S.

Territory agency applies for, and signs an annual agreement to receive Federal funds for disbursement.

In Virginia, where the State does not administer the program, institutions may receive funds directly from USDA.

If the institution is a school food authority that operates another Child Nutrition Program (NSLP, SMP, SBP, SFSP), the institution must have a single, permanent agreement with the State agency.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Approved institutions providing nonresidential day care services may participate in the program. Emergency shelters which provide shelter and meals to homeless children are eligible. Eligible public and nonprofit private organizations may include day care centers, outside-school-hours care centers, settlement houses, family and group day care homes, Head Start programs, and institutions providing day care services to children with disabilities. Private for-profit centers may also participate if at least 25 percent of the children in care (enrolled or licensed capacity, whichever is less) are eligible for free or reduced price school meals or receive benefits under Title XX Also eligible for participation are nonprofit centers which provide nonresidential adult day care, and private for-profit adult day care centers which receive compensation under Title XIX or Title XX, if not less than 25 percent of their enrolled eligible adults receive benefits under Title XIX, Title XX, or a combination of Title XIX and Title XX. Any eligible institution may participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program upon request with State agency approval.


The allow ability of costs incurred by States in administering the program will be determined in accordance with USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations (7 CFR Part 3016 and 3019). Applicant organizations must furnish evidence of tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. This requirement does not apply to public agencies or proprietary institutions.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is subject to the provisions of E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process required by the State.

Application Procedures

Institutions apply to the responsible State agency. In Virginia, where the State does not administer the program, the application is directed to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Mid-Atlantic Regional Office. This program is subject to the provisions of USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations (7 CFR Parts 3016 and 3019).

Award Procedures

When the application is approved, the institution signs an annual agreement with the administering agency.




Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, as amended, Sections 9, 11, 14, 16 and 17, as amended, 89 Stat. 522-525, 42 U.S.C. 1758, 1759a, 1762a, 1765 and 1766.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not applicable to States. States must approve or disapprove an application from an institution within 30 calendar days after receipt of a completed application.


The administering agency must provide a hearing procedure for local institution (i.e., center and sponsoring organization) grievances.


Not less frequently than every three years.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Program funds are provided to the States through letters of credit to reimburse institutions for costs of food service operations, including administrative expenses. Appropriate rates of reimbursement, multiplied by the number of meals served to enrolled participants, represent the basic program payment that an institution receives for each meal served. The assigned rates of reimbursement are adjusted annually on July 1. For child care centers, adult day care centers, and emergency shelters for homeless children, the annual adjustment reflects changes in the Food Away from Home series of Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. For day care homes, the adjustment reflects changes in the Food at Home series of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. Donated foods or cash in lieu of donated foods are also made available. Program payments to child care or adult day care centers depend on the number and types of meals served to enrolled participants, multiplied by the appropriate rate of reimbursement. Rates for meals served to enrolled children and eligible adults in day care centers are determined by the participants' eligibility for free, reduced price, or paid meals using USDA Income Eligibility Guidelines. All children through age 18 in eligible emergency shelters receive free meals without application. After school care programs, which must be located in low-income areas, are reimbursed at the free rate for all snacks--and meals in the States of Missouri, Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, Illinois and West Virginia--served to children through age 18. Sponsoring organizations of day care homes for children are reimbursed at a graduated administrative rate based on the number of homes they operate. The level of reimbursement for meals served to enrolled children in day care homes is determined by economic need based on either the location of the day care home; or the income of the day care provider; or the income of an individual child's household. Meals served in day care homes to the provider's own children are reimbursable only if those children are determined eligible for free and reduced price meals, and at least one other nonresidential child is participating in the meal service. The reimbursement for food service is passed on by sponsoring organizations to the day care home providers under their auspices. This program does not have maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

For the period covered by the agreement.

Post Assistance Requirements


Institutions file monthly reports on program operations to claim reimbursement for meals served and must submit final meal claims no later than 60 days after the claiming month.

States, then, must submit final program reports to FNS no later than 90 days after the claiming month.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," States and Local Governments, and Nonprofit organizations that expend $500,000 or more under Federal awards within any fiscal year shall have either a single audit or (in certain cases) a program specific audit made for that year. Audits may be conducted less frequently under conditions specified in OMB Circular No. A-133. For-profit institutions are subject to audit by their administering State agencies.


Institutions must maintain full and accurate records of program operations for a period of 3 years after the end of the fiscal year to which they pertain. However, where there are unresolved audit findings, records must be retained until there is satisfactory resolution of audit issues.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $2,303,732,494; FY 08 est $2,286,629,000; and FY 09 est $2,386,780,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

State grants vary according to participation in the program.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR Part 226 Regulations and the Child and Adult Care Food Program fact sheet are available at no charge. Administrative and nutrition guidance is available at no charge to program participants from the administering agency.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Director, Child Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture, Alexandria, VA 22302. Contact: Cynthia Long, Director. Telephone: (703) 305-2590.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals


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