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March 2024
There are many wonderful events taking place in March, and CACFP Week is one of them. Each year, the third week of March is dedicated to educating caregivers and the community on the importance of proper nutrition at a young age, the benefits of developing long-term healthy eating habits, and how the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) works to combat hunger. This year, CACFP Week will take place from March 10th to March 16th, and the theme will be “Eat the Rainbow." Visit to register for CACFP Week and receive a free menu for a month of creditable meals that will help you serve a different color of the rainbow each day.
The letters in the “CACFP” emphasize each aspect of the program. Community, Awareness, Children, Food Program, and Participate demonstrate how each aspect of the CACFP works together to serve over 4.5 million children and adults every day. We hope you take the time to explore the resources that are available on the CACFP Week website to learn more, promote, and celebrate CACFP week.
Using CACFP Funds for
Farm to CACFP Supplies
by Marianne Lindgren & Willow Thomas
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that provides reimbursement to qualified caregivers for meals and supplements (snacks) served to eligible participants. Incorporating seasonal and local produce into meals and snacks is a best practice in the CACFP. In addition to the enhanced nutritional value of fresh vegetables and fruits, integrating local foods into CACFP operations can provide valuable learning opportunities and help lessen the financial strain of rising food costs.
CACFP regulations state that costs associated with growing food to be used in meal service and/or nutrition education are allowable costs. Examples include seeds, fertilizer, plot rental, gardening tools, and supplies needed for nutrition activities (e.g., cutting boards, plates, child-safe knives, etc.). To receive reimbursement for these items, procurement standards must be followed, and these expenses must be listed in the institution’s approved annual CACFP budget. CACFP institutions can update their budgets at any time and should contact their Field Service Representative for more information.
Receipts, invoices, etc. must be kept on file to document approved expenses. Ensure receipts of purchase, including those that may be handwritten, contain the date of purchase, name of the vendor or farm, item cost, amount, and total cost. Records of donated or harvested foods are to be retained as 
well. All documentation must be kept on file for three years, plus the current fiscal year.
To learn more about how to incorporate local foods into your CACFP operations, be sure to visit the North Carolina Farm to CACFP webpage for helpful resources on getting started, documentation, educational materials, menus, and more! If you would like additional information or are interested in participating in the CACFP, contact the State agency.  
Starting Seeds Indoors
by Courtney Ramsey-Coleman
NCDHHS Healthy Eating and Nutrition Security Coordinator

Starting seeds for spring gardens in your classrooms can be a delightful and educational experience for young children. They can witness the magic of germination as tiny seeds transform into sprouts and eventually into plants. Incorporating this activity into the curriculum allows teachers to integrate lessons on plant life cycles, the importance of sunlight and water, and the role of caring for living things.
To start seeds in an ECE setting, begin by choosing easy-to-grow seeds like sunflowers, beans, or lettuce. You can follow this guide: Growing Green Thumbs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Seeds in ECE Classrooms for Spring Gardens. Daily observations of the growing seeds encourage a sense of responsibility, promoting sensory exploration and fine motor skills while instilling wonder and curiosity about the natural world. 
Want some quick results? Try growing microgreens. These nutrient packed microgreens can mature within a week, and you can kick-start the process with a microgreens growing kit. This particular kit provides enough for use across multiple classrooms. Here is a variety pack of sprouting seeds. This will enable you to integrate fresh microgreens into your menu rotation and have farm to table in no time! 
Whip It Up!
by Marianne Lindgren, Willow Thomas & Chika Mita 
NC Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
smoothieSmoothies are a fun and delicious way to add vegetables and fruits to your menu! This Lucky Shamrock Smoothie is easy to prepare, packed with nutrition, and naturally sweet. The green color makes it a perfect addition to any St. Patrick’s Day or springtime celebration! And spinach is in season here in North Carolina, so check out your local farm or farmers market for some fresh spinach for the recipe! Enjoy!
Lucky Shamrock Smoothie
Yield: 6 servings
Snack serving size for 3-5-year-olds: One smoothie serving (1 cup)
3 cups fat-free milk (unflavored)
1 ½ cups low-fat vanilla yogurt*
3 cups fresh-packed spinach
1 ½ cups banana puree
*Yogurt must not exceed 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces of yogurt.

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender, blend on high until smooth, pour in a serving cup, and serve immediately.
CACFP Crediting for Snack: ½ cup Milk and ½ oz. eq. of Meat Alternate
Notes: While this recipe does not credit as a Vegetable or Fruit component, keep in mind that pureed vegetables and fruits (fresh, frozen, or canned) served in a smoothie credit as juice and are subject to the juice limit of no more than one serving of juice per day.
Recipe adapted from: Serving Smoothies in the CACFP by California Department of Social Services
The Reading Nook
Rainbow Stew
by Cathryn Falwell
Join a grandpa and his three grandchildren as they work in the garden to harvest vegetables to make rainbow stew. Includes a recipe for rainbow stew. Watch a read aloud on YouTube
Eating the Alphabet Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z
by Lois Ehlert
Each turn of the page reveals a mouth-watering arrangement of foods: Indian corn, jalapeno, jicama, kumquat, kiwifruit, and kohlrabi. Lois Ehlert's lively watercolors paired with bold easy-to-read type make for a highly appealing and accessible book for parents and children to devour. Watch a read aloud on YouTube.
This on-demand, self-paced webinar will explore Farm to Preschool with the CACFP. Through this module, you will learn what Farm to CACFP is, as well as its many benefits. The module will review valuable resources and tools that will help CACFP operators get started with Farm to CACFP, use CACFP reimbursement for Farm to CACFP expenses, and document donated and harvested foods. View here.
PennState Extension: What You Need to Grow Microgreens at Home
Microgreen production for self-consumption in a household does not require using any special tool, and besides the seeds, you should be able to find everything you need at home or in any household product store. Learn more here.

ASPHN's Farm to ECE 2023-2024 Webinar 
March 12, 2024 from 2-3pm ET
Learn about new Farm to ECE resources to build and strengthen Farm to ECE policy, programs, and systems. Register here
Farm to School Training
If you missed last months "I Tried Local..." Training by Growing Minds, reserve your spot now for March 20, 2024 // 3 pm ET
“I Tried Local…” A Toolkit for Engaging Kids with Local Food and Farms is designed for use in early care and education (ECE) through second grade and offers curriculum alignment. In this training, you will learn about the different components of the Toolkit, hear success stories from farm to school champions across the state, and brainstorm ways you can start using it in your classroom. All are welcome no matter what your experience with farm to school is! Learn more and register. 
This Week in the Garden
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The NC Farm to Preschool Network connects, educates, develops and shares resources between community and state partners, farmers, early childhood educators and families to spark the local foods movement in early childhood education environments.
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