New Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal patterns and best practices were implemented nationally in 2017 to address the shift in dietary need from ensuring essential nutrient consumption to chronic disease prevention. Young American Indian (AI) children have disproportionately higher risk of chronic disease. Some AI tribes operate early care and education (ECE) programs and have the opportunity to participate in the CACFP. The purpose of this paper is to describe a CACFP best-practice menu and training developed and implemented as part of the Food Resource Equity and Sustainability for Health (FRESH) study, a community-based participatory research (CBPR) intervention implemented within ECE programs in the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. Site managers and cooks from each of the nine ECE programs attended meetings and provided investigators with feedback that shaped the best-practice menu and training. Each site participated in a three-hour training in January 2018 to discuss the best-practice menu and ways to overcome implementation barriers. Goals of the menu aimed to increase intake of fruit and vegetables and whole grains and reduce pre-fried and processed foods without increasing cook burden. Training included application activities individually and in small and large groups. Though the project is still underway, lessons learned, including the need for technical assistance, improved communication between ECE program staff and food supply vendors, and infrastructure barriers (e.g., limited space, lack of supplies) that challenge workflow, have emerged. Efforts to improve menus in rural and low-income ECE programs must consider these issues in developing feasible intervention strategies.
- Community-based participatory research
- Early childhood
- Native American