“Best Practice” Family style:
The CACFP has long been recognized for its goals of providing nutritious meals to children and helping them establish good eating habits at a young age. Family style meal service further enhances these goals by encouraging a pleasant eating environment that supports and promotes meal time as a learning experience. Some family style basics:
- All food/beverage components of a reimbursable meal, in minimum required amounts, are served in common serving dishes (bowls, platters, pitchers) and placed on the table for all children and caregivers.
- Serving dishes are passed from one child to another and the children are allowed to serve themselves, based on developmental readiness, and assistance from the supervising caregiver.
- Caregivers encourage children to take the minimum required portion of each food component; however, if a child is hesitant, the caregiver will encourage them to try a small portion/bite.
- If the child declines the food the caregiver will not force the child to take the food item. A child’s meal may be claimed for reimbursement even if s/he declines to select one or more offered food items.
: Staff pre-fill plates and glasses with all food/beverage components of a reimbursable meal pattern and serve to children/adults in the minimum required amounts
This meal service style combines pre-plated and family style meal services. It can be used when certain food items of a meal cannot be easily or safely passed in common serving dishes from one child to another. Example, hot soup or chili, if the adult is “pre-plating” these food items, the minimum required portion size must be served. In summary, the portion size of food items that are “pre-plated” must meet the minimum required portion size and food items served “family style” is decided by the child.
Commonly found in school settings. Children/students are served the food components of their meal by food service staff as they proceed down the serving line. In some situations, a supervising adult may assist a child/student with his/her tray if unable to safely carry their tray to a cafeteria table. If a CACFP contracting entity receives or the children eat their meals at school, they may follow the NSLP meal pattern.