The Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture published earlier this year a proposed rule with new requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). In comments submitted today to USDA, IDFA agreed with the proposal’s focus on a variety of nutrient- dense products, including dairy, but called for allowances that would maintain and encourage consumption of milk, yogurt and cheese.
This program subsidizes meals and snacks provided to children in child care centers or homes, as well as adult day care centers. It serves about 3.6 million people each day, and during fiscal 2014 it served over 1.9 billion meals, including breakfasts, lunches, suppers and snacks. CACFP meals and snacks are required to align with the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which identify low-fat and fat-free dairy foods as foods to encourage in American diets.
“IDFA members are proud of the range of nutritious dairy products they provide for both children and adults,” said IDFA in the comments. “We urge USDA to continue to allow for a wide range of these, including low-fat and fat-free milk, both flavored and unflavored, yogurt and cheese, in the CACFP program.”
Limit Calories, Not Sugar, in Flavored Milk
Although fluid milk would continue to be a required component of all CACFP meals and options for snacks, IDFA called for allowing both low-fat and fat-free flavored milk with a limit of no more than 150 calories per cup instead of a limit on sugars. This limit would achieve the goal of keeping total calories moderate while providing a beverage that is well-liked and aligning with the targets of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation program.
Yogurt for Everyone
While yogurt would continue to be allowed as a meat alternate in meals and snacks, the proposed rule also would allow yogurt to be a substitute in place of fluid milk for adults one time per day. IDFA’s comments supported the proposal to allow yogurt for fluid milk substitutions for adults once per day and recommended the same allowance for children.
IDFA urged USDA to allow yogurt for infants six months and older, and agreed with the proposed limitation of 30 grams of sugar per six ounces of yogurt. IDFA noted that many commercially available yogurts for both adults and children already meet this level of total sugars, so providers should be able to find a variety of yogurts that meet the needs of the program and the flavor preferences of their participants.
Cheese and Yogurt as Voluntary Inclusions at Breakfast
The proposal allows both cheese and yogurt to continue as meat alternates for both meals and snacks. IDFA supported the proposed voluntary inclusion of a meat or meat alternate for half of the grain requirement as part of CACFP breakfasts, and noted that cheese and yogurt would be useful contributions to breakfasts to raise the protein and overall nutritional quality of the morning meal.