CACFP Grain Requirements

CACFP Grain Requirements

Just like adults, children need whole grains every day! It’s easier to establish the habit of eating and enjoying whole grains if you start when they are young. Let’s review the why, the when and the how of serving whole grains in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Essential Whole-Grain-Rich Recipes

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    WHY should we include whole grain foods in our daily diet?

    Whole grains contain B Vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients that help kids and adults stay healthy. But the sad truth is that children ages 1-13 years old eat up to TWICE THE AMOUNT of refined, processed grains that they should, but not nearly enough whole grains.

    Poor habits like this will definitely impact their future health. Refined or processed grains are just so EASY in our society. They are literally everywhere. A person must really work at including unrefined, or whole grains in their diet.

    Adults should eat about 6-8 ounces of grains each day. Grains is a pretty broad category that includes bread, cereal, pasta, rice and tortillas. Preschoolers need less, only about 4-5 ounces. USDA is promoting a good rule of thumb, “MAKE AT LEAST HALF OF YOUR GRAINS WHOLE GRAINS”. Adults should have about 3 ounces of whole grains per day and children should have at least 2 ounces.

    That’s really a pretty small investment in a healthier body and a healthier future!

    WHEN should we include whole grain foods in our daily diet?

    The CACFP has made this easy by requiring that “at least one of the grain components of a meal or snack must be whole grain-rich.” Whole grain-rich food items must be offered at least one time per DAY. They do not have to be offered at every meal or snack in childcare. As with any other new foods, it is best to start out gradually, by just meeting the requirement. As children (or your own family members) start to enjoy whole grain-rich foods, you can begin to serve them more frequently. It’s a win-win situation!

    There is no whole grain-rich requirement for infants under one year of age in the CACFP. Let’s face it – there are some whole grain products that your little people may never enjoy. But that’s okay, because there are a LOT of great whole grain-rich products out there to try. We have put together a list of 50 of our favorite items that can be found at most any grocery store. Have a look!

    2021 Top 25 Whole Grain Hits.pdf

    2023 Top 25 Whole Grain Hits.pdf

    HOW should we include whole grain foods in our daily diet?

    Let’s be sure we understand exactly what “whole grain-rich” really means! Whole grain-rich means that at least half the grain ingredients in a food are whole grains, and any remaining grains are either enriched grains, bran or germ.

    You must become a label-reader to really know if a food is whole grain-rich. You will NOT be able to rely on the messaging you will find on the front of the box! It can be tricky, so read the label.

    The first ingredient must be some type of whole grain. The only exception to this is water. Sometimes water will be listed before the first grain ingredient. After you have determined whether the first grain is a whole grain, look for any other grains and make sure they are enriched grains. If you don’t see the word enriched, look for the words “bran” or “germ”. You should find great whole grain-rich products like bread, cereals, crackers and pasta readily available in your supermarket.

    List of whole grains from Nibbles for Health newsletter

    Whole Grains List from Nibbles for Health.pdf

    Baking with whole grains made easy

    Are you a baker? Baking with whole grains is really simple. People are often afraid to bake with whole grains, fearing a heavy or dense product will result. This outcome can be avoided by mixing whole wheat flour with enriched white flour in a 2:1 ratio. That is 2 parts whole wheat to one part enriched white flour. Any products made with this mixture automatically count as a whole grain-rich food! Biscuits, bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles, rolls, pizza dough, the possibilities are endless! We have created a great whole grain-rich scratch recipe page to help you get to baking.

    Baked goods are especially nice this time of year when the warmth of your oven is a welcome addition to a chilly morning. Delightful aromas drifting throughout the daycare will have your little ones begging to sample your creations at breakfast or lunch time.

    Essential Whole-Grain-Rich Recipes

    Download the PDF

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