CACFP Rates Announced for 2017-2018

Each year USDA must adjust meal reimbursement rates and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) change during the prior 12 month period. Click here to view rates.

The CPI is broken down into many sub-categories, and Congress has determined in the law which parts are used to adjust rates in the CACFP.  Rates for Family Day Care Home meals are based on the “food at home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers.  Rates for centers are based on the “food away from home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes are based on all items of the CPI for All Urban Consumers added together.

This year, the CPI on all items increased 1.87%, which resulted in a $2 (rounded) increase to admin rates on the first 50 homes for sponsors of homes and a $1 increase for homes 51 and up.   The CPI for food away from home showed a 2.31% increase, which resulted in higher meal reimbursement rates for meals served by centers.  This increase is slightly lower than last year’s increases, which benefited from rounding up due to a few tenths of percentage higher increase in the CPI.

Unfortunately, the food at home series showed a drop of 0.16% over the same period.  This means that, by law, USDA had to adjust meal reimbursement rates downward for Family Day Care Homes.  Fortunately, the percentage decrease was quite small, so in most cases it was not enough to round down to a decreased reimbursement rate. However, any percentage-based decrease affects the higher reimbursement rates more than the lower rate, so some of the higher-reimbursed meals for Alaska and Hawaii did go down a small amount.  (We are asking for clarification now on why the rate for Tier 2 lunches and suppers specifically appears to be rounded down instead of up and will update this post when we hear back.)

There’s no easy way to break the news to providers that they will not receive an increase in money this year, particularly when most of us aren’t actually seeing that food prices have dropped at all in the last year.  The only way to keep this from happening again is to urge Congress to change the law, prohibiting any future downward adjustment in reimbursement rates and admin rates and asking for a more realistic measure of the costs of serving food in family childcare.  This is not something that a sponsor, a state agency, or even USDA can change.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization hasn’t moved forward yet, so there may still be opportunity to urge your Congressperson to ensure that the good nutrition that CACFP provides stays accessible to the neediest children.  It certainly can’t hurt to let them know how much more difficult this makes getting healthy food to our most underserved kids.  Go here to find out how to contact your Senators and Representative.

Why did reimbursement rates go down?

Each year USDA must adjust meal reimbursement rates and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) change during the prior 12 month period. Click here to view this year’s rates.

The CPI is broken down into many sub-categories, and Congress has determined in the law which parts are used to adjust rates in the CACFP.  Rates for Family Day Care Home meals are based on the “food at home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers.  Rates for centers are based on the “food away from home” series of the CPI for All Urban Consumers and the administrative reimbursement rates for sponsors of homes are based on all items of the CPI for All Urban Consumers added together.

This year, the CPI on all items increased 1%, which resulted in a $1 (rounded) increase to admin rates for sponsors of homes.   And the CPI for food away from home showed a 2.64% increase, which resulted in higher meal reimbursement rates for meals served by centers.

Unfortunately, the food at home series showed a drop of 0.69% over the same period.  This means that, by law, USDA had to adjust meal reimbursement rates downward for Family Day Care Homes.  Because any percentage-based decrease affects the higher reimbursement rates more than the lower rate, the Tier 1 rates serving the neediest children dropped more in real dollars than the smaller Tier 2 rates.  Some of the differences in the Tier 2 rates were entirely erased by rounding to the nearest cent, because they were already so small.

There’s no easy way to break the news to providers that they will receive less money for the same food, particularly when most of us aren’t actually seeing that food prices have dropped at all in the last year.  The only way to keep this from happening again is to urge Congress to change the law, prohibiting any future downward adjustment in reimbursement rates and admin rates.  This is not something that a sponsor, a state agency, or even USDA can change.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization hasn’t moved forward yet, so there may still be opportunity to urge your Congressperson to ensure that the good nutrition that CACFP provides stays accessible to the neediest children.  It certainly can’t hurt to let them know how much more difficult this makes getting healthy food to our most underserved kids.  Go here to find out how to contact your Senators and Representative.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization Needs Funding!

The House bill for Child Nutrition Reauthorization (H.R. 5504) has been approved, but NONE of the increases in CACFP funding are going to go into effect unless Congress now finds a way to fund them!  This includes a $5 across-the-board bump in monthly sponsor admin rates, an additional meal each day for providers, and expanded tier 1 status in rural areas.  However, unless our Representatives figure out how to pay for these much-needed funding increases, they won’t make it into the final law. As FRAC and the CCFP Roundtable have recently reminded us, it’s Congress’ job to find the money for this.  They need to know that we’re paying attention and that Sponsors and Providers want the money that the President promised!

Right now, your Representatives and Senators have returned home for their summer recess.  This is the time when they’re supposed to connect with your community, and find out what the voters in their districts want for our country.  Until mid-September, they’ll be in their local offices, which are probably within easy driving distance from your own office.

What better time to drop in and chat with them about the impact that increased admin funds and provider reimbursement will have on your local community? They’d love to hear how many voters will be directly impacted, how many of those food reimbursement dollars will be spent directly in your home district, and how good a site visit to a provider’s home would look for them on the evening news.  And right now, they may not even know that the CACFP exists, much less how important it is to the health of our nation’s children!

Even if you don’t visit their offices, call in! If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to talk to them directly, or more likely you’ll talk to one of their staffers.  You can bet that most of their staffers either have children in childcare or were in childcare themselves not so long ago.   Tell them about your agency and the good work that you do—they’ll be interested!  Let them know you’re right down the street, and how many providers in their district you work with, maybe even how many parents in their district have children on the CACFP. You’re bound to get their attention, and it’s definitely worth a shot!

The House of Representatives bill is the only one that includes the admin rates bump, but “pay-go” rules prohibit the bill from being passed unless our Representatives first establish how they’ll pay for it.  So remember, when you talk with them it’s THEIR job to figure out where the money comes from, what we want to remind them is that American children’s health is too important to play politics with.  Right now they’re proposing cuts to the SNAP program (formerly Food Stamps) to pay for child nutrition, so if this subject does come up, you might want to appeal to their compassionate nature to dump this very bad idea for funding!

Your Senators and members of Congress are just people, like you and me—and so are their staffers and office workers.  Don’t be intimidated out of participating in the democratic process and making Child Nutrition Reauthorization happen!  Register your support for a FULLY FUNDED H.R.5504 today!

They don’t know how important the CACFP is unless we tell them!   Take 15 minutes and call! CACFP Sponsors and Providers are the BEST ambassadors that the food program has!

Go to the CCFP Roundtable’s website (www.ccfproundtable.org) and click on Advocacy for a great list of resources: find your congressperson, sample letters, and instructions on how to visit your representatives!