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  • Writer's pictureElyse Homel Vitale

Open Letter to Leadership: CACFP is in Crisis and We Need Your Help!

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

We wrote a letter to Governor Newsom and shared it with his administration and other state and federal leaders to sound the alarms: CACFP is in in crisis and we need help NOW.

The Roundtable and our community is deeply concerned about the state of the CACFP and its ability to continue to reach the hundreds of thousands of individuals these programs typically serve. We are seeing these issues in California and EVERYWHERE else too. USDA could seriously help mitigate the harm by providing a blanket waiver for CACFP.

Here's what we are seeing:

  • CACFP sites are struggling to meet meal component requirements, because staples like bread, milk, and canned goods are scarce. Without guidance or flexibility from the government, sites, who would like to continue to offer meals and snacks, are unable to because they don’t know if there will be a reimbursement to cover the costs.

  • Child care and afterschool sites are closing in order to follow social distancing orders and kids are left without normal access to meals. This is particularly challenging for our state’s youngest children (0-4 years old) who may not have access to the take-home school meals that are being made available to school-age children.

  • Children who rely on afterschool programs for supper are going without. Schools are not able to offer supper (or a third meal) because CACFP is not included in the current non-congregate strategy to get food to kids. Furthermore, parents are being denied meals if the child is not present for meal pick up.

  • As K-12 public schools close and parents still have to go to work, the child care sites that have remained open are seeing an influx of children at their facilities. These sites are struggling to increase production and afford the overnight surge in need for meal and snacks.

  • Just like with schools, many CACFP sites want to continue to offer much-needed meals and snacks during this time of crisis without the congregate requirement.

  • Sponsors of the CACFP are furloughing and laying off staff because without federal reimbursement their programs are not sustainable. These largely nonprofit organizations who oversee CACFP sites that directly serve children and adults are at risk of closing because without the guarantee of federal reimbursement they are unable to pay salaries and rent. Without sponsors, hundreds of thousands of kids and adults lose access to meals and snacks.

And here's what we know can help:

  1. Allowing CACFP to continue operating without the congregate requirement;

  2. Providing a guarantee of reimbursement, regardless of meeting meal component requirements; and

  3. Providing the flexibility for CACFP sponsors to work remotely (i.e. suspending on-site visitations requirements) until it is deemed safe to have social interaction.

We invite you and encourage you to share this letter with your local, state, and federal leaders. If we come together as a community on this, we can have a unified and powerful voice.

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