Child and Adult Care Food Program cereal reimbursement revisions

CACFP meal patterns have been revised by the USDA and will go into effect on October 1, 2017. There have been substantial changes to the breakfast cereals that are reimbursable.

According to the United State Census Bureau, 61 percent of children under the age of five are in some type of childcare setting, so it is extremely important to ensure that they are being served adequate nutrition. Many studies have shown that there is an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and obesity as the consumption of added sugars increases, therefore the American Heart Association recommends that children do not consume more than six teaspoons, or 25 grams, of added sugars per day.

According to research completed by Butte and colleagues, in 2010 around 85 percent of two and three year old children consumed some type of sweetened beverage, dessert, sweet or salty snack in a day. This current intake of sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages often result in increased sugar, fat and calorie consumption contributing to the risk for obesity, as well as the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Many children are served breakfast cereals and due to the high amounts of added sugars in many of these cereals the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) guidelines have been updated to decrease the amount of added sugars consumed by children in childcare settings. These new guidelines will go into effect on October 1, 2017 with a one-year transition period.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, breakfast cereals include:

• Instant cereals
• Hot cereals

It is now required that in order to be reimbursed for a breakfast cereal, the cereal must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce. To calculate this:

1. Find the serving size in grams at the top of the nutrition label and the sugars listed towards the middle of the nutrition label
2. Divide the total sugars by the serving size in grams
3. If the answer is equal to or less than 0.212, then the cereal is creditable in CACFP

You can access detailed instructions explaining how to calculate the grams of sugar per dry ounce here

For a list of cereals that meet the CACFP requirements, please visit the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Current Food Guide.

Alternative breakfast options instead of cereal:
• Fruit
• Low fat yogurt containing less than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces
• Whole wheat toast
• Whole wheat mini bagels
• Whole wheat pancakes
• Eggs
• Cottage cheese

The new guidelines to be reimbursed for breakfast cereals under the CACFP guidelines are an attempt to help decrease the amounts of added sugars that children are consuming. By aligning with the Women, Infants, & Children cereal guidelines, providers are able to recognize and identify the reimbursable cereals faster and easier than having to calculate it out. It is important to note that other cereals that are not on the WIC Food Guide can be served, however, in order for providers to be reimbursed, the cereal cannot contain more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce.

More information regarding the Child and Adult Care Food Program can be found on the USDA website