House Members Introduce Bill to Help Child Care Providers Supply Nutritious Meals to Children
Earlier this month, Representatives Greg Landsman (D-OH) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced H.R. 5569, The Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act. The bill makes important updates to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to ensure that providers are able to supply nutritious, essential meals to children in their care for a manageable cost.
CACFP provides healthy meals to young children in center-based child care programs and family child care (FCC) homes at a free or reduced-price. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) through grants to states. These grants to participating child care providers offer nutritious food to young children by giving them a cash reimbursement for meals and snacks served, which must meet federal nutrition guidelines. CACFP also serves children residing in participating homeless shelters and after school programs.
CACFP plays an important role in laying the foundation for healthy eating habits, as many children are in child care full-time and eat the majority of their meals while in care. Additionally, some children may not otherwise have regular access to healthy food. Knowing that children will receive healthy meals while at child care removes time, financial, and stress burdens for parents.
Unfortunately, the program is outdated, and lawmakers are working to update it to better reflect the needs of the child care sector. The Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act works to ensure that CACFP-participating child care programs will better be able to provide nutritious meals to children by increasing reimbursement rates to these providers. Specifically, the bill calls for:
- A 10 cent increase for all eligible meals and snacks in all CACFP-participating Head Start, child care centers, family child care (family child care) programs, at-risk after school programs, and adult care programs
- Improved reimbursements for FCC providers by
- Eliminating the two-tier system, which currently provides a different reimbursement rate to family child care participants versus center-based child care participants and Head Start/Early Head Start
- Allowing them to be reimbursed for meals provided to their own children regardless of their income level
First Five Years Fund appreciates the leadership of Rep. Landsman and Rep. Bonamici in introducing the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act as it will provide essential support to providers who are already operating on razor thin margins. More about the bill can be found here and here.