Impact of the 2017 Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Pattern Requirement Change on Menu Quality in Tribal Early Care Environments: The Food Resource Equity and Sustainability for Health Study.
Current Developments in Nutrition , Volume 4, pp 12-22; doi:10.1093/cdn/nzz094
Abstract: Native American (NA) children have a high prevalence of obesity contributing to lifespan health disparities. Dietary intake is important to promote healthy weight gain, growth, and development. In 2017, the USDA enforced changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The CACFP provides reimbursement to qualifying Early Care and Education (ECE) programs that serve foods that uphold the program's nutrition requirements. This study had the following 2 objectives: 1) Describe a novel index to evaluate ECE menus based on revised CACFP requirements (accounting for food substitutions) and best practices for 3- to-5-y-old children, and 2) analyze CACFP requirement and best practice compliance and nutrient changes in 9 NA ECE programs before and after enforcement of the revised CACFP requirements. This longitudinal study is within a larger community-based participatory research study. Menus and meals served were evaluated for 1 wk at each of 9 programs before and after enforcement of the revised meal patterns. Nutrient analysis, CACFP requirement and best practice compliance, and substitution quality were evaluated. Differences were determined using a paired t-test or Wilcoxon matched test. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03251950. Total grams of fiber consumed increased (5.0 ± 1.2 compared with 5.9 ± 0.8 g, P = 0.04) and total grams of sugar consumed decreased (53.8 ± 12.6 compared with 48.4 ± 7.9 g, P = 0.024), although room for further improvement exists. Although total grams of fat remained unchanged, grams of saturated fat significantly increased (7.8 ± 1.4 compared with 10.5 ± 3.4, P = 0.041). Other nutrients remained unchanged. Overall CACFP requirement and best practice compliance scores improved, although this finding was not statistically significant. No significant changes in food quality associated with substitutions occurred. This study provides early evidence to support the beneficial impact of the revised CACFP requirements. Understanding barriers to compliance within rural NA communities would be an important next step in enhancing the health of vulnerable children.
Keywords: community-based participatory research / Young children / Native american / Dietary intake / Preschool / Menu / Tribal / Early Care and Education / Food Program / Cacfp
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