Just One Click: Increasing Participation & Access to CACFP

This week the Maine Children’s Alliance is submitting testimony to support LD 1472, Resolve, To Enhance the Administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program by Creating Clear Guidelines for Organizations and Streamlining the Application Process. This blog post was adapted from the testimony of Clare Berkowitz, MCA Executive Director.

Child Food Insecurity - Percent 2013

As I sat down to write my testimony in favor of of LD 1472, my mind kept going back to a little girl I met and her simple love of apple sauce. Although the bill addresses the more technical elements of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), I could not help but think of the larger impact it could have for hungry Maine kids.

Last week, I met a little girl  while volunteering at the Bath Area Food Bank, which is an essential resource for children and families from low-income households in my community. This little girl was probably no older than four years old and is only one of the 1,580 children living with food insecurity in Sagadahoc County.

Hunger in Maine

Across Maine, there are over 61,000 children living with food insecurity, which is almost one out of every four children in the entire state. This is a problem. However, it is a problem we can work together to solve by expanding access to existing programs that are already serving children in our state.

Far too many Maine children think of apple sauce as a luxury item and not a pantry staple.

Fortunately, Maine is able to fight childhood hunger with the support of important U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture programs. CACFP is just one of many programs that make sure our kids don’t go hungry by reimbursing organizations who provide healthy meals to children and adults in care programs.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program

CACFP provides financial aid to child and adult care programs for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children and older adults. In order to provide such services and receive reimbursement, qualifying care facilities must complete lengthy applications and comply with numerous requirements and guidelines.CACFP 2012 Data - FRAC

LD 1472 seeks to make it easier for child and adult care programs to apply or reapply to CACFP by directing the Department of Health and Human Services to streamline the application and reapplication process by providing access to the necessary forms online. It also requires that all necessary forms are able to be completed and submitted online.

Why LD 1472 Matters

CACFP WebsiteAt the Maine Children’s Alliance, we believe that if the CACFP application and reapplication becomes a little easier, more providers will participate in the program. This means that more children will have access to healthy food and more federal dollars will be brought into the program.

This is an opportunity to make a greater investment in Maine’s economy and an investment in our children – our future.

Far too Maine working families struggle to stock their pantries with the essentials that many of us take for granted. The children who live in food insecure households can gain access to healthy, nutritious meals in various child care settings through CACFP.

Rather than maintain barriers to participation by continuing with a burdensome paper process, let’s make the application/reapplication process easier and more reflective of the 21st century by making it an online process. Let’s take this opportunity to increase access for the kids who need it most. LD 1472 is one simple and easy way to do just that.

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