How to Apply to the CACFP

Thank you for your interest in participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and providing healthy and delicious meals to the children of California!

If your organization is interested in applying to operate the CACFP, please follow the steps below.

If you are looking to apply as a family day care provider (operating out of your own home), please visit the Day Care Home Sponsors web page and directly contact a day care home sponsor that serves your county.

Steps to Apply

Step 1:Contact us at One of our staff will review your request and then contact you within 7 days for a prescreening.

Step 2: The specialist will complete a prescreening questionnaire over the phone; during the phone call the specialist will determine your eligibility to apply for the CACFP. If you are eligible, the specialist will follow up with an email containing application instructions and deadlines based on your agency type.

Step 3: Once the specialist has received and reviewed the requested documentation by the deadline, the specialist will determine if you meet the performance standards that demonstrate Viability, Capability, and Accountability. If you do, you will be given access to the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS), where you will complete and submit an online application for your organization. You will also be assigned to your county CACFP Specialist who will assist you in completing this step and the remaining steps of the application process.

Please Note: It is important to meet the deadlines throughout the application process as this supports the determination for capability. If the deadlines are not met, the application may not be approved.

Step 4: The final step of the application process is a pre-approval visit to your site. This must be conducted in-person and the CACFP specialist must be present to observe at least one meal service. If there are corrections to be made a follow-up visit will be scheduled which may include a second on-site inspection.

Please Note: The CACFP application process generally takes several months from the initial application date until a final determination is made. Additionally, applications in Step 3 and beyond will be placed on hold from August 1 to November 1 due to the annual renewal process.


CACFP Info: Basic information about the CACFP.

CACFP Administrative Manual: The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) online guide to operating the CACFP.

CACFP Center Sites: A list of existing locations that operate the CACFP, by county.

CACFP Appeal Process: Provides the process for requesting an appeal if you believe your application was unfairly denied, as well as a list of appealable actions.

Transfer of Agency Ownership: This page provides guidance on how to handle a sale or transfer of an organization that is operating the CACFP. Organizations must immediately notify the CDSS prior to a change of ownership to avoid loss of meal reimbursement.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.

Child and Adult Care Food Program Logo, hands holding a heart shaped apple

Contact Us

CDSS Child and Adult Care Food Program
744 P Street, MS 9-13-290
Sacramento, CA 95814

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