top of page


CACFP provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served to small groups of children receiving nonresidential day care in private homes that are licensed or alternately approved to provide family child care. CACFP targets higher levels of reimbursement to low-income areas, and to day care providers and children most in need. The reimbursements make the cost of day care more affordable for many lower income families. Health and safety standards, training, and monitoring make CACFP an important component of quality child care, especially in family day care homes.

What Is The CACFP For Centers?

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded program. As a participant in the CACFP, childcare homes receive monthly cash payments for serving nutritious USDA approved meals and snacks to the children they serve. The goal of the CACFP is to make good nutrition available to children from birth through 12 years of age.

Who Benefits From The CACFP?

Naturally, the children you care for benefit through the nutritious meals that they receive. The childcare parents benefit because their children receive free and well-balanced meals while they are in your care.  You, the childcare provider, benefit by receiving monthly reimbursement payments to help cover the cost of the foods use purchase and serve. Also, being able to offer free food to the children in your care is a valuable business asset for childcare providers that can help attract customers.

What Are The Requirements To Participate?

To participate on the CACFP you must be a licensed or alternately approved (unlicensed) childcare provider.  You must agree to serve meals and snacks that meet the nutritional guidelines established by the USDA and you must agree not to charge your childcare parents for the food you serve. Finally, you also need to be sponsored on the program through a state-approved sponsor such as The Karamu Nutrition Program, and agree to follow all of the rules and regulations for the CACFP. As your sponsor, Karamu will train and assist you in meeting the USDA guidelines. 

Licensed Childcare Home Participation Guidelines
UN-Licensed Childcare Home Participation Guidelines
How Much Money Will I Receive?

Once a month, Karamu will process the attendance and meal records that you submit to us and will issue you a payment accordingly. Providers are reimbursed in accordance with meal rates set by the USDA. There are two different sets of rates a provider can receive.  The basic rates are known as Tier 2 rates.  All providers automatically qualify to receive these rates.  There is also a second set of rates (known as Tier 1 rates) which are somewhat higher than the basic rates.  Providers can qualify to receive the higher rates if they serve low income children or if the provider’s annual household income is within the guidelines set by the federal government.  The current rates are listed below. Karamu will help determine which set of rates you qualify for. A majority of our providers qualify for the Tier 1 rates.

2019-2020 FDCH Meal Reimb Rates.JPG

The exact amount of reimbursement you receive each month will depend on the number of children you serve, the number of days you are open, the types of meals you serve and the Tier reimbursement rates that you receive. As an example, let’s say you serve 7 children a breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack for four weeks (20 days) and you qualify to receive the Tier 1 rates. You would receive a payment of about $630.00 (assuming all the meals you served met the USDA guidelines.)

Benefits of Sponsorship

The Karamu Nutrition Program (KNP) has been an industry leader in CACFP sponsorship in Tennessee for over twenty five years.  Karamu’s founder and Executive Director is Vera Corley-Sims, a retired childcare provider and a nationally known advocate for provider and children’s causes. Karamu is a provider friendly organization which has built a strong reputation of treating its’ providers with respect and courtesy; Dr. Vera will have it no other way! 


The CACFP is designed to provide good nutrition, but the USDA can only do so much. At Karamu we are committed to making nutrition easy and economical for providers. We do this by offering a host of benefits to assure that your CACFP participation is a pleasant and positive experience. Our benefits include online claiming, a variety of economical pre-planned menus , detailed reimbursement statements, direct deposit of your meal reimbursement money, and flexible training options!  And even more, we serve practically every county and DHS district in the state. So no matter where you are in Tennessee, we’re there for you!  

Rights And Responsibilities

A Tier II Provider may require the Sponsoring Agency to collect income eligibility applications from the children enrolled in the home; determine the income eligibility of the children for Tier 1 meal payments; and maintain the application information in a confidential manner.  If enrolled children in the Provider’s home are determined income eligible for Tier 1 meals, the Provider will receive meal reimbursements which factor in the higher Tier I meal reimbursement rates.

The Provider is required to keep daily records of: Menus which show the food items served for each meal/supplement served each day; The total number of meals/supplements served to each child each day; and he number of enrolled children who are present each day.

The Provider may claim meals for the Provider’s own children only when the following occur:  The Provider’s household income is at or below 185 percent of the poverty level based on the Provider’s completion of an income eligibility application; and  At least one (1) enrolled, non-residential child is present and participating in the meal service.

The Provider may not claim any meals for any meal service in which the only children participating in the meal service are those children residing in the Provider's home.  

The Provider may only claim one meal per child per meal service.

The Provider must attend training sessions required by the Sponsoring Agency.

The Provider must allow authorized representatives of the Sponsoring Agency, the TDHS and the Federal Government to come into the Provider's home for the purpose of reviewing the operations.  This will be done several times a year and at times visits may be unannounced.


The Provider must inform the Sponsoring Agency, without delay, of the names of any children added to or dropped from the enrollment for child care, or of any changes in the Provider's child care license, alternate approval status or approved meal services.    

The Provider must submit the meal count and menu records to the Sponsoring Agency by the 3rd business day of each month for the preceding month of operation.  Failure to do so may result in loss of payment for the month.

The Provider may claim meals served to his/her own children only if the Sponsoring Agency determines that the Provider meets all of the household size, income, and Social Security Number requirements to be eligible for Tier I meal reimbursements under the CACFP.  If the Provider does not supply the information or meet the requirements for Tier 1 eligibility, the Provider may not claim meals/supplements served to his/her children.

The Provider must serve meals that meet the CACFP requirements for the ages of the children being served.  The Provider may not claim more than three meals per child per day, and of the three, one must be a supplement.

The Provider agrees to not receive reimbursement for meals served to children who are over 12 years of age, unless the eligibility of older migrant or disabled persons enrolled for care has been established by the Sponsoring Agency.

The Provider has the right to immediately terminate this Agreement for cause.  The grounds for termination for cause are exclusively limited to the following deficiencies of the Sponsoring Agency: Noncompliance with the requirement to disburse meal program payments to the Provider within five (5) working days of the notified receipt of the payments from the TDHS; Noncompliance with the requirement to submit initial monthly claims to the TDHS within 30 days of the close of each reporting month, which results in the untimely disbursement of program payments to the Provider; and Violation of any other responsibilities as defined in this Agreement.

The Provider agrees that he/she may participate in the CACFP under another sponsoring agency without penalty, if this Agreement is terminated for cause by the Provider and the TDHS concurs with the grounds for which the termination occurred.  

The Provider agrees to not participate in the CACFP under another sponsoring agency, if he/she is terminated for cause and has not corrected the deficiency(ies) for which termination occurred.


The Provider may also terminate this Agreement for convenience.  A termination of the Agreement for convenience may occur if the Provider determines that it is not administratively feasible to continue under the sponsorship of the Sponsoring Agency.  The Provider should notify the Sponsoring Agency in writing of such termination prior to the effective date.  Notification that occurs at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the termination is recommended.

The Provider may terminate this Agreement for convenience and enter into an agreement for CACFP participation with another Sponsoring Agency only once during the current program year. 

The Provider agrees that he/she may participate in the CACFP under another sponsoring agency without penalty, if this Agreement is terminated for convenience by the Sponsoring Agency.

The Provider agrees to not participate in the CACFP under another sponsoring agency while this Agreement is in effect.

The Provider must serve meals to all enrolled children without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age.

The Provider may establish his/her own child care fees without regulation by the TDHS or the Sponsor, except that no separate charge may be made for the food service; and no separate charge may be specifically made because an enrolled child does not qualify for the Tier I reimbursement rates, or because the child’s household declines to complete and return an income eligibility application.     

The Provider agrees to operate his/her CACFP in compliance with the HS-1963 (i.e., Site Sheet) approved by the Sponsoring Agency. 

The Provider must notify the Sponsoring Agency in advance whenever the Provider is planning to be out of his/her home during the meal service period.  If this procedure is not followed and an unannounced review is conducted when the children are not present in the home, claims for meals that would have been served during the unannounced review will be disallowed.

The Provider may appeal a Notice of Intent to Terminate issued by the Sponsoring Agency subject to the appeal procedures established by the TDHS.  

If so instructed by the Sponsoring Agency, the Provider will distribute to the parents and guardians of the children in care a copy of the Sponsoring Agency’s “Household letter and Income Eligibility Application to determine Tier 1 payment eligibility for the children in care.” 

Unlicensed Providers

Yes, in addition to the rights and responsibilities shown above, unlicensed childcare Home providers (commonly referred to as Alternately Approved or Self-Certified) must also adhere to additional compliance requirements. Click Here for a complete list of those requirements.

Join Karamu

To join Karamu, simply give us a call at 901.327.8401 or go to the Contact page of this website and send us a message. We're waiting to hear from you!

bottom of page