The CACFP Roundtable's mission is to foster a community of leaders who work together to build equitable access to the Child and Adult Care Food Program and nutritious meals in care settings.
The CACFP Roundtable has a 45 year history of standing up for the right to a nutritious meal. It all began in November 1977 when the USDA held a series of regional hearings to provide nutrition program sponsors a chance to speak their views on the food programs they operated. The San Francisco hearing overflowed with sponsors eager to share their grassroots experiences. The opportunity to speak directly with state and federal administrators was groundbreaking. Patty Whitney Wise, a Roundtable founder, understood that the dialogue needed to continue – and so the Roundtable was founded. The organization was formed to provide a forum in which sponsors, advocates, and administrators could meet as equal participants.
At the time the Roundtable came to existence, sponsors of child nutrition programs faced a crisis: Congress newly ordered that all sponsors in each of the food programs be audited every two years. Having to pay the cost of their own audits would drive many sponsors out of the programs, limiting access to the vital resources for kids and families. The Roundtable played a leading role in persuading USDA officials to set aside money for states to pay for the audits. Policy and regulatory advocacy of this kind continue to be a primary role of the Roundtable. Continuing to do this day, the strength of the Roundtable is realized in the open forum between program and state and federal administrators.
In the early 1980s a recurring theme at many of the Roundtable meetings was the complicated record-keeping requirements. In 1984, due to these concerns, the Roundtable appointed a volunteer Advisory Committee to review sponsor forms. From this point forward, training, technical assistance, and mentorship became central to the work of the Roundtable. In 1988, the Roundtable hosted its first conference, with the goal of making the CACFP in California the best and most effective food and nutrition education program for children. The Annual CACFP Conference continues today, bringing several hundred of individuals from different sectors together from across the nation. In addition, the Roundtable is growing our educational programs to better support diversity among CACFP leaders and racial and geographic equity in the CACFP.
The Roundtable played a key role in fighting back Congressional proposals to block grant the CACFP in the 1990s, as well as successfully advocating the recent nutritional overhaul of the meal patterns in the 2010s. In 2012, California’s Governor eliminated the funding for supplemental state meal reimbursement for meals served through CACFP. The Roundtable has led and continues to lead the advocacy campaign to reinstate this critical source of funding for CACFP facilities. When the pandemic swept across the nation in 2020, the Roundtable activated all of our resources to support the field in advocating and navigating USDA flexibilities and programs, including securing emergency funding for CACFP so that the programs can keep their doors open and support food security for the children, families, and adults in their communities.
The Roundtable has a lengthy and successful history. It is recognized by the CACFP community as an incredible resource and a unique and desirable model for other states. Nowhere else can you find sponsors, state administrators, and advocates breaking down silos and collaborating to build a more equitable CACFP and improve access to nutritious meals in care settings.