New CACFP Meal Patterns to be Implemented by October 1

The USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) includes aid to more than four million U.S. children in family or group day care homes, child care centers and afterschool programs. USDA recently revised the CACFP meal patterns to help ensure access to healthy, balanced meals throughout the day for this vulnerable population. The updated patterns, that must be in place by October 1, 2017, include a greater variety of vegetables and fruits, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat.

There is an opportunity for public health nutrition professionals implementing the new CACFP meal patterns to elevate attention to nutrition literacy as a foundational part of a child’s early learning experiences. Elevating attention to nutrition literacy can help bring focus on improving how children obtain, process and understand basic nutrition information and what experiences they need to help make appropriate nutrition decisions. For example, exposure to nutrition literacy and healthy dietary patterns can be reinforced with positive, fun food prep experiences, and by greater awareness to portion size.

Engaging young children in food preparation encourages creative experiences with a variety of food groups as illustrated in MyPlate. It also provides an opportunity to help children enjoy the experience of preparing and eating nutrient dense food combinations such as pairing fruits or vegetables with yogurt. In addition, the USDA’s Farm to Child Nutrition Programs planning guide provides ideas to help providers plan engaging nutrition education and curriculum experiences for their clients. The National Farm to School Network has resources including a Roadmap for Early Care and Education that can help parents, caregivers and educators get started on their journey toward elevating nutrition literacy

The degree to which portion size should change for young children as they grow can also be reinforced. When it comes to portion size, growth rates inform or predict energy needs and should change as children grow, thus impacting how much a child should eat at each age. The updated meal standards charts for infants and children are an excellent resource for recommended portion sizes for different age groups.

For even more information, the USDA has colorful and engaging materials that can be used to help programs and families implement the updated CACFP meal pattern requirements. And, the National CACFP Sponsors Association also offers meal pattern reminder materials.

How are you implementing the CACFP updates? We’d love to hear from you!

Yvonne Bronner, ScD
One Yogurt Every Day Nutrition Advisor

Promote Health Awareness this September

September is a time for bolstering health consciousness and nutritious eating and marks National Family Meals Month and National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Information and additional resources can be found below:

Research shows that people who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories.1 The Food Marketing Institute is encouraging families to discover how one small meal change per week can improve family health and happiness for National Family Meals Month.

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month is a chance for communities, health professionals and families to work together at a time when one in three children in the United States are overweight or obese.2 Healthfinder, a government website, has information, tools and tips on this important issue.

As of this fall, all Dannon® brand Whole Milk Yogurts and Plain Quarts as well as Danimals® Smoothies will have secured Non-GMO Project verification – the recognized third-party verification system for nonGMO foods. These products will feature the Non-GMO Project Verification seal to signify that they contain nonGMO ingredients and are made with milk from cows fed non-GMO feed.

Progress during the past year also includes having more than 90 percent of the milk we use originate at farms that achieved certification for their animal welfare standards and practices, via Validus. Learn more about this milestone on our Dannon Pledge website.

1. FMI | Food Marketing Institute | Family Meals Month. Fmiorg. 2017. Available at: https://www.fmi.org /family-meals-month. Accessed September 7, 2017.

2. September National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – healthfinder.gov. Healthfindergov. 2017. Available at: https://healthfinder.gov /NHO/SeptemberToolkit.aspx. Accessed September 7, 2017.