Adult Care Menu Planning
For some participants, the food they eat at the CACFP adult day care program will be the tastiest and healthiest food they will have all day.

DETERMINE: The Warning Signs of Poor Nutrition for the Senior Population
Eating poorly
Tooth loss
Economic hardship
Reduced social contact
Multiple medications
Involuntary weight loss/gain
Need of assistance in self-care
Elder years above age 80

Adult Care Menu Planning Tips  Minimize 

Herbs and Spices Amplify Flavors
As adults grow older,photo of herbs they may experience a diminished sense of smell and taste. These senses are important for a healthy appetite and eating and changes can result in a disinterest in food. A variety of other oral health conditions may also lead to a reduced appetite, such as dental problems and medication side effects. Herbs and spices such as rosemary, basil, cumin and coriander are a fantastic way to enhance the smells and flavor of meals without adding sodium, fat or calories. Herb and spice blends can be used in recipes during production, as well as provided during meal service alongside condiments. Click on
Adding Herbs to Your Culinary Toolbox, for the flavor profiles of 11 common herbs, as well as tips for herb gardening, drying and storing. Garlic, chives and onions are also very fragrant and flavorful additions to recipes. Another way to entice seniors to enjoy the experience of eating is to feature brightly colored vegetables, such as carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, yellow squash, tomatoes and red and orange bell peppers.

Center Gardens  Minimize 
Center and home gardens can serve seniors throughout the state of Texas by encouraging adult day care centers to buy local produce to increase the appeal, acceptability, and nutrition value of the meals and snacks they serve through CACFP. Seniors learn the joy of gardening with hands-on activities that provide interaction with other Senior adults and caregivers.

Benefits to Seniors
  • Nourishment – buying local and on-site gardening produces nutrient-dense foods and ingredients that contribute to a balanced diet.
  • Physical and Mental Engagement — spending time in nature can be good for a person’s entire well-being. Gardening requires physical strength and mental patience to wait for the plants to grow. Occupational and physical therapy can be performed through gardening.
  • Cost-efficiency — growing your own food and buying locally can be a cost saver.
  • Lifelong Learning – gardening teaches best practices, time of day to water, how often to water and what types of plants need unique attention. Seniors learn about the health benefits of eating locally grown food, as well as how it’s better for the environment and more satisfying to their taste buds.
  • Sense of Accomplishment - gardening lets seniors watch something they planted come to life. For an older adult gardening delivers a sense of meaning and accomplishment. 

Always consult your doctor before engaging in physical activity to determine the level of exercise appropriate for you. Have day care staff perform the laborious tasks and have the senior residents manage the lighter garden upkeep. 

Download this handy 2-page resource How to Build a Raised Edible Garden to get started!

FNS Instruction 796‐2,Rev. 4 provides the policy on  buying local foods and growing food at the day care center/home as allowable costs. Contact your regional community operations staff or your designated Education Service Center (ESC) for technical assistance on how to get started today.

Recipes & Cookbooks  Minimize 
Recipes for Healthy Kids: Cookbook for Homes (USDA) Recipes for Healthy Kids: Cookbook for Homes (USDA)
  • These recipes are completely appropriate for adults
  • 30 easy-to-prepare recipes that feature healthy foods, such as dark green vegetables, beans/peas and whole grains 
 USDA Recipes for Child Care USDA Recipes for Child Care (ICN)
  • These recipes are completely appropriate for adults
  • More than 150 recipes that have been standardized by the USDA

Additional Resources  Minimize 
 Peak Harvest Month for Texas Produce (TDA)  Peak Harvest Month for Texas Produce (TDA) Peak Harvest Month for Texas Produce (TDA)
  • Trifold of seasonal foods for each month
  • Not currently available online; provided to CACFP training attendees. Contact your ESC Specialist if interested in obtaining printed materials. 
Food for Thought Bingo  Food for Thought: Bingo (TDA)
  • A bingo set complete with bingo cards and 21 game  boards
  • Not currently available online; provided to CACFP training attendees. Contact your ESC Specialist if interested in obtaining printed materials.
 Food for Thought: Crossword Puzzle (TDA)  Food for Thought: Crossword Puzzle (TDA) Food for Thought: Crossword Puzzle (TDA)
  • Solve the Healthy Eating Puzzle to Feel Great!
  • Not currently available online; provided to CACFP training attendees. Contact your ESC Specialist if interested in obtaining printed materials.
 Adult Day Care Resource Manual (ICN) Adult Day Care Resource Manual (ICN)
  • Useful tool to plan nutritious meals and snacks for the adults in your care
  • Also offers suggestions to improve quality of foods served, as well as the atmosphere of the dining area
  • Lesson plans for staff training

artwork for adult care menu

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Texas Department of Agriculture
Commissioner Sid Miller