Healthy Tots Act
Early childhood is a period of rapid growth and brain development. Children who lack consistent access to nutritious foods during this formative period are more likely to be in poor health and experience developmental setbacks. Child development facilities are uniquely positioned to help children develop the strong bodies and minds needed for success in preschool and beyond. Nevertheless, many community-based facilities need additional support and funding to create healthier childcare environments.
To support the nutrition of very young children, D.C. Hunger Solutions worked closely with members of the D.C. Council to develop, pass, and fund the Healthy Tots Act of June 2014. The Act requires that eligible child development centers and child care homes in the District participate in the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which pays for nutritious meals and snacks for children enrolled at eligible child care.
The Act provides $3.2 million in local funding for child care facilities participating in CACFP to:
- Adopt higher nutritional standards than the national standards, including serving local produce (25 cents per child per day in addition to the federal reimbursement).
- Serve three meals (since a cut in the 1996 welfare law, CACFP provides funding for only two meals and a snack, no matter how many hours a child is in care; D.C. will be the first “state” to allocate local funding to pay for a third meal).
- Apply for grants for physical activity, gardens, nutrition education and Farm-to-Preschool programs.
This comprehensive early childhood wellness legislation — modeled on the successes of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act — is a creative investment to improve the quality of hundreds of community-based child care centers and homes and ensure that thousands more children have access to the nutritious meals they need to grow, learn, and thrive.
A copy of the legislation can be found in the Budget Support Act (pdf) starting on page 281.