The Child and Adult Care Food Program: Who is Served and What are Their Nutritional Outcomes?

Rachel A. Gordon, Robert Kaestner, Sanders Korenman, Kristin Abner

NBER Working Paper No. 16148
Issued in July 2010
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Economics

This paper addresses three basic questions about an under-studied food subsidy program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): (1) Does CACFP reach targeted low-income children? (2) How do eligible families and child care providers who participate differ from those who do not participate? (3) What is the association between attending CACFP-participating child care and children's food intake, weight, and food security? We use the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort to examine these questions for a representative sample of young children and their providers. We find that program eligibility rules leave many poor children outside the CACFP program. Yet, among poor preschoolers in center-based care, participation in the program is correlated with positive outcomes such as increased consumption of milk and vegetables, and healthier weight (BMI). We discuss the implications of our findings, especially in relation to other food and child care subsidy programs.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16148

Published: Gordon, Rachel A., Robert Kaestner, Sanders Korenman, and Kristin Abner. 2011. "The Child and Adult Care Food Program: Who is Served and Why?" Social Service Review 85 (3): 359 - 400. Frank R. Breul Memorial Prize for the best publication in Social Services Review 2012

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