Existing Flexibilities in the CACFP

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

Date: May 2014

Number: CACFP-10-2014

To: All Child and Adult Care Food Program Agencies

Attention: Food Program Director

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture Policy Memorandum CACFP 09-2013 and CACFP 15-2013; Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 226.6(a)(2), 226.9(b), 226.15(e)(2) and (e)(3), 226.15(e)(10), 226.16(d)(4)(i), 226.16(f), 226.20(b), 226.22(h), 226.23(d), and 226.25(b).

Subject: Existing Flexibilities in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

This Management Bulletin (MB) highlights existing flexibilities for agencies participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to simplify and improve the delivery of nutrition assistance to low-income children and adult participants through the CACFP. It also emphasizes several opportunities to streamline operational provisions, including those related to enrollment documentation, payments, and training. Agencies may review U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memorandum CACFP-15-2013 on the USDA CACFP Policy Memos web page.

Enrollment Documentation

CACFP regulations require that agencies maintain documentation for participants enrolled to receive care (Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations [7 CFR ], sections 226.15[e][2] and [e][3]). Documentation of participants’ enrollment must include information on normal days and hours of care and the meals each participant normally receives while in care. It must also be updated annually and signed by the parent/guardian. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) does not require a specific form to document enrollment.

Payment Provisions

States have options when assigning rates of reimbursement for agencies (7 CFR, Section 226.9[b]). The regulations require that claiming percentages are established at least annually. The CDSS allows for an annually determined claiming percentage, which reduces the paperwork burden.


CACFP regulations require the CDSS to provide sufficient training and technical assistance to agencies (7 CFR, Section 226.6[a][2]). States must provide appropriate training prior to an agency’s participation, and at least annually thereafter, on content areas established by the state agency. The CDSS provides online and in-person training for new agencies and provides all agencies with access to online elective courses throughout the year. In addition, agencies can take the annual mandatory training online or attend the course in person at multiple venues throughout the state.

Single Agreements

Note: Guidance in the Single Agreements section was applicable when the CACFP was administered by the California Department of Education (CDE). The CDSS and the CDE now offer separate agreements and agencies will need to sign the specific program agreements that are explicit to each department.

Each agency enters into an agreement with the CDE to assume final administrative and financial responsibility for CACFP operations. Although the CDE may require the agency to enter into separate agreements for the administration of separate types of facilities (7 CFR, Section 226.16[f]), the agency is encouraged to enter into a permanent single agreement with the CDE. In California, the CDE now issues permanent single agreements to agencies participating in any of the School Nutrition Programs, the Summer Food Service Program, or the At-risk Afterschool meal component of the CACFP. [Note: As of 1/2/2020, the CDE no longer issues permanent single agreements to agencies participating solely in the Summer Food Service Program or the At-risk Afterschool Meals component of the CACFP.] Once the CDE issues an agency a permanent single agreement, a second signature from the agency is not required to participate in an additional child nutrition program.


Agencies participating in the CACFP are no longer required by the USDA to submit renewal applications every one to three years. Instead, agencies must submit annual update documents to the CDSS through the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) and certify that they still meet the requirements for participation. The CDSS allows agencies to scan and upload documents directly into the CNIPS to reduce paperwork during the annual update process.

Infant Meals

Child care centers and family day care homes serving infants must offer meals that include breast milk or an infant formula that meets CACFP requirements (7 CFR, Section 226.20[b]). In most child care facilities, if a parent declines the formula offered, the parent may provide a different brand or type of formula. There is a sample form titled Parent/Guardian’s Form for Declining a Provider’s Infant Formula in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS to use when documenting the parent’s decision. This specific form is not required as documentation that the parent has declined the infant formula; however, notation should be made as part of recordkeeping requirements. For example, it is allowable for an agency to document that a parent has declined infant formula on an enrollment form. Please note that documentation is unnecessary in Head Start programs, because Head Start policy requires the child care center to purchase the type of formula that accommodates each infant’s nutritional needs and feeding preferences.

Menu Production Records

CACFP agencies must collect and maintain copies of menus and any other food service records required by the state agency (7 CFR, Section 226.15[e][10]). Some state agencies require participating agencies to maintain menu production records, which document the type and amount of food produced for a reimbursable meal, and that the meal served meets CACFP meal pattern requirements. Though production records are not a federal mandate, the CDSS requires child care and adult day care agencies to maintain them. Production records are a useful tool to determine if institutions prepare sufficient amounts of food. A thorough review of production records during administrative reviews allows the CDSS to ensure that meal pattern requirements are met on the day of the review and during the selected review period. Please note that providers of At-risk Afterschool meals, emergency and homeless shelters, and family day care homes are not required to maintain menu production records.

Media Release

The USDA requires CACFP agencies to annually provide information on the program’s availability through a public media release in the area the agency serves (7 CFR, Section 226.23[d]). In California, the CDSS meets this requirement for all agencies through an annual statewide media release; therefore agencies are only required to issue a media release once within the first 30 days of operation. 

Procurement Methods

The CDSS requires CACFP agencies to follow the small purchase procedures, as set forth by Title 41, U.S. Code, Section 143, for items commonly purchased under the federal threshold of $250,000 (7 CFR, Section 226.22[h]). For larger purchases of services, supplies, or other property over the federal threshold, the CDSS requires agencies to follow the Invitation for Bid and Contract procedures. All procurement transactions, regardless of the amount, must be conducted in a manner that ensures free and open competition.

and Sign-out Sheets

Reconciliation of a facility's meal counts with enrollment and attendance records for a five-day period is a required element of an on-site review (7 CFR, Section 226.16[d][4][i]). The CDSS requires daily attendance records to be completed for all programs to support meal/snack claims for reimbursement. Child care and adult day care agencies must provide a daily roster of participants present each day, by first and last name, in addition to a sign-in/out sheet. At-risk Afterschool care programs, emergency and homeless shelters, and family day care home providers must provide a daily sign-in sheet or a daily roster of participants.

Additional State Requirements

States may prescribe additional operating requirements. State requirements must be consistent with federal requirements, cannot deny access to the CACFP to eligible children, and must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate USDA Food and Nutrition Service Regional Office (7 CFR, Section 226.25[b]; CACFP 09-2013, Additional State Agency Requirements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, March 29, 2013).


If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact your CACFP Specialist. A contact list of CACFP Specialists is available on the CACFP County Contacts web page or in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS as Form ID CACFP 01. You can also contact the CACFP Office Technician by email at CACFPinfo@dss.ca.gov to be directed to your CACFP Specialist.

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