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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Marshall

New study identifies benefits of and challenges to participation in the CACFP

Thank you to our CACFP community members who participated in this study to better

understand the benefits of and barriers to CACFP participation by independent centers. The findings were published in an article in the journal Nutrients as well as this research brief.

Summary of the Study

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers collaborated with the CACFP Roundtable to identify the benefits of and barriers to participating in the CACFP by independent child care centers and their sponsors. Nearly one-in-three child care centers participating in CACFP across the nation are considered independent centers, meaning they are independently owned and operated, not owned by a corporation and operate at a single physical site. Through focus groups and interviews conducted with 16 independent centers and 5 sponsors of independent centers in California, December 2021 through March 2022, researchers identified several benefits of and barriers to CACFP participation as well as several facilitators to support participation.

The study also highlighted the important role sponsors play in supporting independent centers to participate in the CACFP. The participating centers and sponsors were geographically and operationally diverse, located across all California Department of Social Services-established CACFP administrative regions, from both rural and non-rural settings. CACFP-participation ranged from one to 10 or more years, and one tribal and one government/military center also participated in the study.

Findings were published in an article in the journal Nutrients as well as a research brief. The study was conducted by Lorrene Ritchie, Danielle Lee, and Christina Hecht from NPI, in collaboration with Elyse Homel Vitale and Samantha Marshall from the CACFP Roundtable, and Lindsay Beck from the University of California, San Francisco, Nutrition & Food Services. The study was funded by the California Department of Social Services.


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The CACFP Roundtable is committed to fostering 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. Your support goes toward programs and advocacy that help us get closer to ensuring everyone has the right to nutritious meals and making the CACFP an even better Food Program for all.

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