This fall season was a big deal for CACFP.
Why? Even though it's not technically time for movement to improve CACFP through the traditional Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (CNR), the House of Representatives and the Senate have put forth bills to improve the CACFP. We have written about them one by one but we thought it would be nice to put it all in one place.
HR 5569: Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act (September 2023, House of Representatives). It adds the additional 10 cents in perpetuity for ALL CACFP programs, eliminates tiering for family child care providers, and ensures all family child care providers can be reimbursed for their own children's meals while in their child care program.
HR 6067: The Early Childhood Nutrition Improvement Act (October 2023, House of Representatives). This bill adds an additional reimbursable meal, addresses paperwork and administrative barriers, allows for-profit centers to determine eligibility annually instead of monthly, and changes how family child care providers reimbursement rates are adjusted annually, making it the same as child care centers using the index "food away from home" instead of "food at home" within the Consumer Price Index.
S. 3294 The Child Care Care Nutrition Enhancement Act (November 2023, Senate). The Senate bill provisions are the same as the House of Representative Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act provisions with the addition of changing how family child care provider reimbursement rates are adjusted annually, making it the same as child care centers using the index "food away from home" instead of "food at home" within the Consumer Price Index.
What does this mean?
Congress knows you are struggling and need more to sustain your care programs and meal
service. These are good steps in the right direction and allow us to make our representatives and senators know how important this program is to feeding families in care settings. These bills create an opportunity for us all to point to something and say "we matter, the food we serve matters, and the CACFP is an essential component of that."
These are marker bills, which means when the time comes for the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass a bill that will make CACFP better, they:
have the language for it (among a lot of other technical things), and
know what their constituents support.
So, we need to make some noise!
There are many ways we can do this. And you don't just have to pick one!
The first step is to find out who your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators are and find out if they have already supported the bill. If they have signed on as a co-sponsor, you want to say Thank You so much for co-sponsoring [insert the bills name] either by telephone or email. If they have not yet co-sponsored the bills see below!
Simple Emails. Use this action center to send quick emails to your representatives.
Each day, more than 4.2 million children have nutritious meals and snacks through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
Good nutrition in the first years of life is essential for early brain development. I am proud of the healthy meals I serve.
The caregiving workforce in Early Head Start, Head Start, child care centers, family child care and after-school programs work tirelessly to ensure children do not go hungry and continue to have opportunities to learn and grow.
CACFP reimbursements help me with some of the costs of providing a meal, and make it so that I don’t have to ask families to pay extra for all of the healthy meals in my program.
And if you are able to express support for legislation, include:
Please co-sponsor two bills 1) the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act, introduced by Representative Landsman from Ohio and Representative Bonamici from Oregon, and 2) the bipartisan Early Childhood Nutrition Enhancement Act, introduced by Representative Bonamici from Oregon and Representative Molinaro from New York.
Without your support, we will see an increase in young children and even providers themselves going to bed hungry. We will also see more burdens placed on working families.
Thank you for supporting the Child Care Nutrition Enhancement Act! It is bill number H.R. 5567 in the House, and bill number S. 3294 in the Senate.
Meetings and site visits make a lasting impact on policymakers. They can hear and see your experiences and stories firsthand. Child Care Aware of America has 5 steps to follow to request a meeting and this guide, Face-to-Face with Congress: Before, During, and After Meetings with Legislators has useful tips for how to conduct a meeting and follow up afterward. If you would like support in setting up meetings or site visits, contact me! email@example.com.
These are essential opportunities for education and making the CACFP more than an acronym. Do you have stories like these to share? Now is the time.
As my son says, Let's GO!