Skip to main content

Providers Choice Blog

Return to Blog   Share:       



May 10th, 2024
By Caroline Wilcox, Nutrition Intern and Katie Chatfield, MPH, RDN, LD, CCNP, Nutrition Manager

On April 24, 2024, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released updates to Child Nutrition meal patterns for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in the Child Nutrition Programs Final Rule: Updates to the CACFP & SFSP Meal Patterns. This change is to more closely align with WIC and school meals based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

These recent changes are minor for child care providers and the sugar limits do not go into effect until October 2025.

Sugar image
Changes that Impact CACFP include:

Moving from total sugars to added sugars for cereals and yogurt
Allowing nuts and seeds to credit as the full amount of Meat/Meat Alternate
Allowing registered dietitians to sign Special Diet Statements
Minor word/ terminology changes

One of the changes includes new limits for breakfast cereals and yogurt, changing from total sugars to added sugars. This updated standard is aimed at prioritizing children's health by lowering their intake of added sugars and recognizing the nutritional value of some foods with natural sugars (such as unflavored cow's milk, unflavored yogurt and dried fruit).

Current vs. Updated Standards

Current Standards Updated Standards What Changed?
Breakfast Cereal Must contain no more than 6 grams of total sugars per dry ounce. Must contain no more than 6 grams of added sugars per dry ounce. Shifting from total to added sugars.
Yogurt Must contain no more than 23 grams of total sugars per 6 ounces. Must contain no more than 12 grams of added sugars per 6 ounces. Shifting from total to added sugars, and switching the sugar limit from 23 to 12 grams.
Meal Modifications Medical Professionals (MD, DO, PA, NP) may write medical statements to request meal modifications. Medical Professionals (MD, DO, PA, NP) and registered dietitians may write medical statements to request meal modifications. Clarifies that both state licensed healthcare professionals and registered dietitians may write medical statements to request meal modifications.
Nuts and Seeds Nuts and Seeds credit for 50% of the crediting limit at breakfast, lunch and supper. Nuts and seeds will credit for the full Meat/Meat Alternate component. Nuts and seeds will now credit like all other meat/meat alternates.
Definition/ Terminology Changes Adds in regulation the current definition of whole grain-rich: "the grain content of a product is between 50 and 100 percent whole grain with any remaining grains being enriched."

Changes references to "dry beans and peas (legumes)" to "beans, peas, and lentils."

Changes references from "food components" to "meal components". Meal component means one of the food groups which comprise reimbursable meals. The meal components are: fruits, vegetables, grains, meats/meat alternates, and fluid milk.
Total Sugars vs. Added Sugars - What is the Difference?
The distinction between total and added sugars is important to understand given USDA's updated changes to the product-based sugar limits for breakfast cereals and yogurts. Total sugars encompass both natural sugars (sugars occurring naturally in foods and beverages, meaning they are not added during processing) and added sugars (sugars added to foods and beverages during processing). This means added sugar is a component of total sugar.

Total sugars = natural sugars + added sugars
Sugar image Natural sugars are found in certain nutrient-dense foods, such as cow's milk and fruit, that also contain vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Added sugars are commonly found in sugar-sweetened beverages, ice cream, and grain-based desserts.2 Therefore, the USDA is focusing on reducing added sugar, rather than total sugar, to prioritize intake of whole foods such as fruit that happen to contain natural sugars while avoiding foods with excessive added sugars.

Why Lower Intake of Added Sugars?
A dietary pattern with high intakes of added sugar can increase an individual's risk for diet-related disease.5 Therefore, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends individuals 2 years and older limit their added sugar consumption to less than 10% of their total daily calorie intake, while children under 2 years old should avoid consuming any added sugar.3

Sugar image
How do I Identify Added Sugars?
The Nutrition Facts panel distinguishes the amount of total sugars separate from the amount of added sugars in a product, making it simple for consumers to identify the added sugar content.

How will this impact your program?
You do not need to do anything right now. Providers Choice will provide updates during Food Program Training this fall, in our newsletters and on visits with your Field Representative.

We will be updating our cereal and yogurt list later this summer to help providers identify creditable options. We do not expect significant changes to the cereal list, but many of the creditable yogurt options may change. The new updated WIC guidelines will now allow the WIC-approved foods list to be used to identify creditable cereal and yogurt for the Food Program.

For more information on the updates and for additional assistance, please contact or call (800) 356-5983.