Cooking for Success as a CACFP Sponsor

Posted by Dr. Patty Bennett, Mid-Atlantic Regional Food and Nutrition Security Administrator

June 22, 2022

The Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Region recently partnered with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to recognize Parent Programs, a sponsor of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in Essex County, NJ, with a Regional Achievement Award from CACFP for their creative and dedicated efforts to promote nutritional security in children. Their program emphasizes meal quality, nutrition education, and the overall well-being of its childcare providers, children, and parents/guardians.

Programs for Parents uses a variety of communication tools, shared in English and Spanish, to translate dietary guidelines into easy-to-use documents for child care providers and families. Targeted Facebook posts emphasize the importance of incorporating fruits and vegetables into eating habits, monitoring sugar content and reading nutrition labels. They recently created a CACFP Facebook group where local daycare providers can share healthy recipes and ideas while receiving nutrition and wellness tips.

Young boy sipping a fruit smoothie from a cup

Programs for Parents uses its monthly newsletter, “Child Care Matters,” to educate providers, parents, and stakeholders about the value of good nutrition in early childhood development. A recent article discussed studies that showed kids who eat breakfast have better attention spans and included a list of morning foods for kids.

Programs for parents also provide hands-on learning to their communities. Last fall, a registered dietitian nutritionist hosted a virtual cooking class for suppliers. The program sent vendors three recipes ahead of time and provided them with a $25 gift card to offset the cost of ingredients they purchased to use during the class. Participants learned how to make delicious turkey sliders and healthy snacks for kids.

Last year, Parent Programs also launched incentive grants of up to $1,000 for CACFP vendors to purchase kitchen and food preparation items such as refrigerators, freezers, slow cookers and utensils to help vendors prepare healthy meals and snacks. Almost all suppliers participated and CACFP registrations increased by 25%.

The CACFP Parent Programs program, in operation since 1984, is an excellent example of the strides child care providers can make to improve the health and nutrition of children and families in need.

Flyer explaining how to prepare baby food from fruits and vegetables

Food and nutrition Nutrition security

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