The Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced Monday that they have joined in promoting a program that serves nutritious meals and snacks to children.
Federally funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Child Care Food Program enables child care providers to promote healthy eating. The DOH administers the federal program and works to ensure that participating facilities offer meals and snacks that meet or exceed federal and state nutrition standards. Meals are available to all eligible participants without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
“The Child Care Food Program promotes healthy habits for life, by encouraging young children to eat nutritious foods and learn about healthy food choices while in child care,” stated Maria Williamson. M.S., R.D., L.D., Chief of the Bureau of Child Care Food Programs in the Department of Health. “Parents seeking child care in Florida are encouraged to enroll their children in facilities that participate in this program.”
The program is offered at four types of child care-related settings:
- Child Care Centers: In a non-pricing child care center, meals are available at no separate charge to eligible children. In a pricing child care center, children from households whose income falls within the reduced-price income eligibility guidelines are eligible for reduced-price meals. These meals are priced at 40 cents for lunch/supper, 30 cents for breakfast, and 15 cents for snacks. Children from households whose income falls within the free income eligibility guidelines are eligible for meals at no charge.
- Family Day Care Homes: Meals are available at no separate charge to eligible children.
- Afterschool Programs: The Afterschool Nutrition Program is a subcomponent of the Child Care Food Program. Snacks and/or suppers are available at no separate charge to eligible children.
- Homeless Shelters and Certain Emergency Shelters: The Homeless Children Nutrition Program is a subcomponent of the Child Care Food Program. Meals are available at no separate charge to eligible children.
Head Start participants and children from households receiving Food Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits are automatically eligible to receive free meals benefits at participating facilities.
The DCF licenses and inspects child care centers and also has some oversight for family day care homes. Their agency recently launched a PREVENT Obesity campaign with 8,000 child care providers across the state to give them the resources and tools they need to prevent obesity through nutrition, physical activity and limiting screen time. Healthy menu ideas are available at www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/child-care/prevent-obesity.
"We know how important it is to teach our children how to grow up happy and healthy," said DCF Secretary David Wilkins. "Our partnerships with other agencies to promote good nutrition from an early age will help these children make good lifestyle choices that will keep them in shape and active as they grow into adults."
A list of participating providers, organized by facility type, can be found at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Family/ccfp/Program/sslist.htm. You can also view the current Income Eligibility Guidelines used in determining a child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals.
DOH protects, promotes and improves the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. For more information on the Child Care Food Program, please visit www.doh.state.fl.us/ccfp/.