USDA Proposes Changes to Day Care Meals and Snacks

Continuing the updates of child nutrition programs under its purview, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture published earlier this month a proposed rule with new requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This program subsidizes meals and snacks provided to children in child care centers or family child care homes, as well as adult day care centers for older adults or disabled adults.

The program 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. While dairy products would keep an important role in these meals and snacks, some of the proposed details would place new restrictions on the types and amount of products allowed for different age groups.

Fluid milk would continue to be a required component of all CACFP meals and option for snacks, and yogurt and cheese would continue as meat alternates for both meals and snacks. In addition, proposed changes include the option to swap a meat or meat alternate, such as cheese or yogurt, for part of the grain requirement at breakfast. USDA also proposed for adults that yogurt be allowed as an alternate to the fluid milk component of a meal or snack, but it would be limited to once per day.

The proposed rule also set limits on fluid milk that are similar to those currently in place in schools. Children under two years must be served white whole milk. All program participants two years old and older would receive lowfat or fat-free milk, and flavored milk would be required to be fat free.

Possible Limits to Chocolate Milk

In addition to these limits, USDA raised the possibility of prohibiting flavored milk for all children under the age of five, or alternatively limiting flavored milk to no more than 22 grams per cup. The proposed rule also requested comment on whether yogurt should be limited to no more than 30 grams of sugar per six ounces of yogurt.

Parents may request a substitute beverage instead of milk for children who have a special medical or dietary need, but these products must contain equivalent levels of nutrients as milk.