The emergence of COVID-19 in the United States led most states to close or severely limit the capacity of their early child-care and education (ECE) programs. This loss affected millions of young children, including many of the 4.6 million low-income children who are provided free meals and snacks by their ECE programs through support from the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Although Congress swiftly authorized waivers that would allow CACFP-participating ECE programs to continue distributing food to children, early evidence suggests that most ECE programs did not have the capacity to do so, leaving a fragmented system of federal, state, and local food programs to fill the gaps created by this loss. Critical steps are needed to repair our nation’s fragile ECE system, including greater investment in CACFP, to ensure the nutrition, health, and development of young children during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health