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  • National Drinking Water Alliance

New CACFP Regs Say Offer Water to Children

Since 2011, child care centers and day care homes participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) have been required by law to make potable (safe) drinking water available to children throughout the day, when they ask for it. What a victory!

And now there’s even better news: starting October 1, 2017, the centers and homes must also offer water to children at different times during the day. A 2016 memo from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) expanded the “make available” requirements to “make available and offer,” to reach those very young children who can’t ask for water, or may not know how to ask for it.

What this Means:

  • Offer water using visual cues such as a cup or pitcher while verbally offering water to children.

  • Milk must be served as part of a reimbursable meal, but water may also be placed on the table.

  • Water must be available during meal times, but not necessarily served as part of the meal.

Drinking Water Best Practices for Child Care:

  • Offer with snacks INSTEAD of sugary drinks.

  • Offer during and after physical activity.

  • Put cups next to water faucets; have cups and pitchers of water on the table at mealtimes.

  • Provide each child with a child-sized refillable water bottle.

  • Promote water. Use Potter the Otter Drinks Water posters, books, and activities on site.

  • Make sure the water in the building is safe (free of lead and other toxins) and let parents know.

For more ideas on making water available all day, click here.

For more information

  • The child care law and regulations are explained in this fact sheet from the University of California Nutrition Policy Institute.

  • CACFP monitors will ensure compliance with the new “offer” standard for water, effective October 1, 2017. CACFP handbooks give basic guidance on making water available, but have not yet been updated to include offering water.

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