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Emergency Shelter Component

Child with adult icon  What is the Emergency Shelter Component of the CACFP?

The CACFP is a federally funded nutrition assistance program that provides funding for serving healthy meals and snacks to eligible participants in emergency shelters that provide residential and food services to children experiencing homelessness.

What Organizations Can Participate?

Organizations which provide temporary shelter and food services to homeless children, including:

  • Family shelters
  • Domestic abuse shelters
  • Residential child care institution (RCCI) that serves a distinct group of homeless children who are not enrolled in the RCCI's regular program
  • Sites that do not offer overnight services if the site provides written assurance that the shelter is a legitimate provider of services to homeless children and that the children who receive meals and snacks are residents of emergency shelters
  • Other facilities that provide temporary shelter and food services to homeless children/youth, with or without their families

Organizations must be one of the following:

  • Private Non-Profit: must have Federal tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Public: must be part of an entity recognized as “public” by the State or Federal Government. This includes public schools, public universities and technical colleges, and Indian reservations.

Eligible organizations must meet state/local health and safety standards. A copy of the following documents must be submitted for these sites:

Eligible Participants
  • Homeless children/youth who are 18 years of age or younger
  • Persons of any age who have one or more disabilities, as determined by the State, and who participate in a facility serving persons who are age 18 and under
Meal Service

Meals and snacks must meet CACFP meal pattern requirements:

Meals may include breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks, on weekdays and weekends.

  • Facilities may receive reimbursement for up to three meals (breakfast, lunch, and supper) or two meals and one snack per participant per day.

Shelter residents may prepare and serve their own meals if the shelter provides supervision of the meal preparation and service, and the shelter ensures that:

  • The meal is served in a congregate setting;
  • The meal meets CACFP meal pattern requirements; and
  • A correct meal count is taken.

All facilities must maintain a daily roster of participants receiving meals, total meal counts by type, and menus for all meals served to infants and 1-18 year olds.


Programs receive reimbursement for claimed meals and snacks. Residents 18 and younger who receive their meals at an emergency shelter are automatically eligible for free meals. For the most current rates of reimbursement, refer to Guidance Memorandum 2: CACFP Reimbursement Rates.

  • Facilities cannot receive reimbursement for meals served to adults.
  • Agencies must spend all reimbursement received on allowable CACFP costs.

Join the CACFP

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For information on joining the CACFP, check out the Join the CACFP page.

New Staff to the CACFP

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For information for new CACFP staff, check out New Staff Responsible for CACFP.

For questions about this information, contact CNT (608) 267-9129