Program Description

boy eating

The Child and Adult Care Food Program provides reimbursement to child care centers for meals served to participating children. The program serves children 12 years of age and under, children of Migrant workers 15 years of age and under, and mentally or physically disabled persons enrolled in a facility serving a majority of people 18 years of age and under.

Eligible facilities must serve meals meeting program requirements; maintain accurate and complete records; operate a nonprofit food service; train center personnel in program requirements and operations; and collect income eligibility information on all participants claimed as free or reduced.

DHSS provides reimbursement for allowable meals served; provides technical assistance on nutrition, food service operations, program management, and recordkeeping and reviews and monitors program services to ensure good nutrition for all enrolled participants. For assistance, contact us.

Eligibility Requirements

All participating child care centers must be one of the following:

  • Licensed by Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
  • License-exempt as a religious organization or nursery school and passed an annual inspection by MDHSS.
  • Licensed by a branch of the federal government as a child care facility.

The center must be nonresidential. In other words, the same children cannot be cared for more than 24 hours on a regular basis.

Private centers must either:

  • Have Federal Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status, (Missouri tax-exempt status will not suffice) or,
  • Receive Title XX compensation (child care subsidy payment from the Missouri Department of Social Services, Division of Family Services) for at least 25 percent of enrolled children or 25 percent of state-license capacity, whichever is less or,
  • Be providing services to children whose households meet the income criteria for free or reduced price meals for at least 25 percent of enrolled children or 25 percent of state-license capacity, whichever is less.

Meal Requirements

To qualify as a reimbursable meal, each participant must be served the minimum quantity of food as outlined, by category per meal type, on the Food Chart - Infant or the Food Chart - Children; Breakfast, Lunch/Supper, Snack. This is referred to as the meal pattern requirement. Menus must contain all the food components in the proper quantity.

The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs is designed by the USDA to help you buy the right amount of food and help you determine the specific contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements. It also has yield data for more than 1,200 food items.

Participating facilities are required to maintain the following records:

  • Daily attendance
  • Menus
  • Daily point of service meal count records
  • Documentation of food service expenses and income to the food service
  • Documentation of household size and family income for each child claimed as free or reduced
  • Miscellaneous records required by the program


Claims for reimbursement may be submitted monthly to report allowable meals served and receive reimbursement.