Federal nutrition programs are critical supports for children, youth, and older adults. They reduce poverty, prevent obesity, improve education and achievement, and boost health. Generations United believes these programs are cost-effective public interventions which are important to all generations.
Many working parents and grandparent caregivers rely on community nutrition resources to help provide adequate nourishment for their children in early care and education programs, during before-and after-school hours. Federal support for these programs is particularly important during the current recession as many families struggle to meet basic needs, including adequate nutrition.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
CACFP is a federal nutrition program that provides reimbursements for meals served to low-income children in before- and after-school programs, summer programs, child care centers, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, and family child care homes, as well as to adults who are in adult day care centers. The CACFP supports the nutrition and health of more than 3 million infants and children and more than 114,000 impaired or older adults, primarily from low-income households.
CACFP meals must meet regulations designed to ensure that participants receive high-quality, nutritious foods. The current requirements, however, are based on information that is two decades old, and in that time scientists have gained a better understanding of how improved nutrition can lead to better health. Generations United supports the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation to set new meal requirements that promote eating more fruits and vegetables, and whole grain-rich foods, and foods that are lower in fat, sugar, and salt.
In 2009 the CACFP provided approximately 1.9 billion meals and snacks to:
- Over 3.2 million children daily in child care centers, family care homes, and after-school programs
- Over 120,000 elderly persons in Adult Day Care
- Over 50,000 child care centers
- 140,000 family child care providers working with 880 sponsors who use CACFP to provide children with high quality nutrition and learning experiences
Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
The WIC program provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, and referrals for health care and social services to low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. WIC programs need continued investment in order to meet the ever-growing need and expansion of access to newly-eligible women and children.
In 2009, more than 9.1 million women, infants and children relied on the WIC program every month. Every month, WIC provides nutritious food to:
- 4.7 million children
- 2.2 million infants
- 2.2 million women
The new WIC food packages improve the health and nutritional quality of the foods in the program, increase participants’ choices, and expand cultural food options by offering fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, and the option of soymilk and tofu.
Targeted outreach is essential to increasing access to WIC services in underserved diverse communities.
Nutrition Supports for Older Adults
Over 3 million older Americans participate in senior meals programs each year under the Older Americans Act, Title III C. Meals are provided to individuals who need them most. About 73 percent of home-delivered meal recipients are at high nutritional risk, and 62 percent of them receive half or more of their daily food intake from their home-delivered meals. An additional 4 million older Americans suffer from food insecurity or the inability to afford, prepare, or acquire food. Resources should continue to be directed to senior nutrition programs to meet the increasing demand for congregate and home-delivered meals because of the growth of the 85 and older population, which is expected to triple over the next several decades.
For more information on CACFP, visit United States Department of Agriculture
For more information on these and other federal nutrition programs, visit Food Research Action Center (FRAC)
Read the Institute of Medicine’s report entitled CACFP: Alligning Dietary Guidance for All