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Crediting Foods for CACFP Reimbursement

CACFP guidelines for crediting meals and snacks

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) reimburses adult day health programs for costs related to the preparation, service, and cleanup of meals. Adults who are functionally impaired or age 60 or older may receive up to 2 meals and 1 snack each day as part of CACFP. To qualify, your program must serve meals and snacks that meet federal guidelines.

CACFP reimburses programs for meals served, rather than for individual foods. A reimbursable meal provides foods in amounts required by the meal pattern for a specific age group. Meals with extra foods (in addition to all components specified in the meal pattern) are also reimbursable. Reimbursement rates are established annually by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Creditable vs. Non-Creditable Foods

Creditable foods count toward meeting the requirements for a reimbursable meal. The decision to consider a food as creditable depends on the following criteria:

  • Nutrient content of the food.
  • Function of the food in a meal.
  • Regulations on the quantity of the food.
  • FDA Standards of Identity.
  • USDA Standards for meat and meat products.
  • Administrative policy decisions on the crediting of particular foods.

Non-creditable foods do not meet requirements for any component in the meal pattern. However, they may help meet participants’ calorie needs, and may provide extra protein, vitamins, and minerals. You can use them to improve acceptability, satisfy appetites, and supplement the required meal components.

This section provides lists of creditable and non-creditable foods in the grains/breads, fruits and vegetables, meat and meat alternates, and milk categories. These lists focus on foods that adult day health centers often inquire about, or foods that they often credit incorrectly. Use of product brand names does not constitute USDA approval or endorsement. Product names are used solely for clarification. If you have a question about crediting items not listed here, contact your state agency.

Meeting Meal Pattern Requirements

The chart below shows the amounts and types of foods in meals and snacks that are reimbursable in CACFP.  For details on meal options, refer to the “offer vs. serve” and “family style” meal options described in this section following this chart.

Some combination foods can also count as creditable foods. These are dishes with foods from 2 or more food groups. It is recommended that combination foods be credited for only 1 or 2 meal pattern components. Tips for crediting these foods appear later in this section.

CACFP Meal Pattern for Adults
BREAKFAST
Select All 3 Components for a Reimbursable Meal  

Milk, fluid …………………………………………………………………………… 1 cup
Fruit, vegetable, and/or juice (juice must be full-strength)…………………… ½ cup
Grains/breads:
    Bread: whole-grain, bran, germ, or enriched ………………………………… 2 slices
    Cornbread, biscuit, roll, or muffin ……………………………………………… 2 servings
    Cold dry cereal (whole grain, enriched, or fortified) ………………………… 1½ cup
    Hot cooked cereal (whole grain, enriched, or fortified) ……………………… 1 cup
    Pasta, noodles, or grains ………………………………………………………… 1 cup

 

SNACK
Select 2 of 4 Components for a Reimbursable Meal  

Milk, fluid …………………………………………………………………………… 1 cup
Fruit, vegetable, and/or juice (juice must be full-strength) …………………… ½ cup
Grains/Breads:
    Bread: whole-grain, bran, germ, or enriched …………………………………… 1 slice
    Cornbread, biscuit, roll, or muffin ………………………………………………… 1 serving
    Cold dry cereal (whole grain, enriched, or fortified) …………………………… ¾ cup
    Hot cooked cereal (whole grain, enriched, or fortified) ………………………… ½ cup
    Pasta, noodles, or grains ………………………………………………………… ½ cup
Meat or meat alternate:
    Lean meat, poultry, or fish (cooked, edible portion) …………………………… 1 oz.
    Alternate protein product ………………………………………………………… 1 oz.
    Cheese ……………………………………………………………………………… 1 oz.
    Egg …………………………………………………………………………………… ½ egg
    Cooked dry beans or peas ………………………………………………………… ¼ cup
    Peanut or other nut or seed butter ………………………………………………… 2 Tbsp.
    Nuts and/or seeds …………………………………………………………………… 1 oz.
    Yogurt (plain or flavored, sweetened or unsweetened) ………………………… 4 oz. or ½ cup

LUNCH OR SUPPER
Select All 4 Components for a Reimbursable Lunch
Select All 3 Components (not Milk) for a Reimbursable Supper
 

Milk, fluid  (required at lunch only) ……………………………………………… 1 cup
Fruit, vegetable, and/or juice (juice must be full-strength) …………………… 1 cup total
Grains/Breads:
    Bread: whole-grain, bran, germ, or enriched ………………………………… 2 slices
    Cornbread, biscuit, roll, or muffin ……………………………………………… 2 servings
    Cold dry cereal (whole grain, enriched, or fortified) ………………………… 1½ cups
    Hot cooked cereal (whole grain, enriched, or fortified) ……………………… 1 cup
    Pasta, noodles, or grains ……………………………………………………… 1 cup
Meat or meat alternate:
    Lean meat, poultry, or fish (cooked, edible portion) ………………………… 2 oz.
    Alternate protein product ……………………………………………………… 2 oz.
    Cheese …………………………………………………………………………… 2 oz.
    Egg ……………………………………………………………………………… 1 egg
    Cooked dry beans/peas ……………………………………………………… ½ cup
    Peanut butter or other nut or seed butters …………………………………… 4 Tbsp.
    Nuts and/or seeds ……………………………………………………………… 1 oz.*=50%
    Yogurt (plain or flavored, sweetened or unsweetened) …………………… 8 oz. or 1 cup

* Nuts and seeds can meet only ½ of the total serving of the meat/meat alternate requirement for lunch or supper. You must combine them with another meat/meat alternate to fulfill the requirement.  

“Offer vs. Serve” Option for Meal Reimbursement*

Your program may choose to use the “offer vs. serve” option. With this option, you must offer each participant all of the required food items with each meal. However, at your discretion, your program may allow participants to decline a certain number of items without affecting the price or CACFP reimbursement for the meal. In other words, you must offer all of the meal items, but participants may decline a certain number of items. This option is not available for snacks.

  • BREAKFAST: Participants may decline 1 serving of the 4 meal items:
    1 serving of milk
    1 serving of fruit, vegetable, and/or juice
    1 serving of grains/breads
    1 serving of grains/breads
  • LUNCH: Participants may decline 2 servings of the 6 meal items:
    1 serving of milk
    1 serving of fruit, vegetable, and/or juice
    1 serving of fruit, vegetable, and/or juice
    1 serving of grains/breads
    1 serving of grains/breads
    1 serving of meat or meat alternate
  • SUPPER: Participants may decline 2 servings of the 5 meal items:
    1 serving of fruit, vegetable, and/or juice
    1 serving of fruit, vegetable, and/or juice                       
    1 serving of grains/breads
    1 serving of grains/breads
    1 serving of meat or meat alternate
  • SNACK: Offer vs. serve is not available for snacks, since the snack has only 2 food items.

“Family Style” Option for Meal Reimbursement*

Your program may also choose to serve meals in a “family style” setting. This option can enhance participants’ acceptability of foods, and give them latitude in choosing initial servings. With this option, you must follow these guidelines to be eligible for CACFP reimbursement:

  • You must place sufficient quantities of prepared food on each table to provide the full required portions of each meal item for all participants at the table.
  • You must initially offer participants the full required portion of each meal item.
  • During the meal, the supervising adult(s) must actively encourage each participant to accept the full required portion for each meal item. If a participant initially refuses an item or accepts less than the full portion, the supervising adult should offer the meal item again to the participant.

* Source: CACFP Adult Day Care Handbook, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, October 1993.

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

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