Last week, I left the office to celebrate a special birthday that was being held on Capitol Hill. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which feeds over 3 million children every day, turned 50! CACFP is the federal child nutrition program that helps to ensure that children enrolled in family child care homes, community-based child care centers, Head Start, and after-school programs receive healthy meals and snacks in every state. It reaches children in their key developmental years and allows parents to go to work knowing that their children will be well fed during the day.
Last week’s celebration was organized by the National CACFP Forum, which is committed to striving for CACFP policies and investments that work for providers, parents, and children.
Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Stefanik (R-NY) were there to show their strong support for CACFP. They have introduced the bipartisan Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act, which would allow CACFP to reimburse providers for serving a second snack each day, so that children enrolled in child care for long hours would have the nutritional support they need. Rep. Bonamici shared that, “For decades, this successful program has provided nutritious meals to many of our nation’s low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities.” Rep. Stefani joined to “celebrate 50 years of working to ensure that children across the country have access to food and proper nutritional support.”
Other advocates from the Food Research and Action Center, the National Association for Family Child Care, AFSCME, and my colleague Helen Blank at the National Women’s Law Center spoke about the fact that CACFP plays an essential role in supporting not only children but family child care providers as well. Through CACFP’s multiple monitoring visits throughout the year, these providers—who are often very isolated—receive valuable support and technical assistance.
This celebration helped me better understand why it is so important to continue to support CACFP and help the program expand its reach to more children and providers.
Cheers to another 50 years. Happy Birthday, CACFP!