Dawn Perez is the Senior Implementation Specialist & Training Director and has been at Minute Menu for almost 14 years! Dawn has guided hundreds of Minute Menu clients through the implementation process and teaches many classes at Child and Adult Care Food Program conferences around the U.S. The CACFP has inspired Dawn to always live a healthy and active lifestyle with her family.

Why is the CACFP important?
People feel better when they have good, nutritious food in their body. 

How does the CACFP impact the lives of children?
Not only does the CACFP help provide access to healthier meals, it also teaches the importance of nutrition. And kids that are introduced to healthy foods at a young age are more likely to have good eating habits for the rest of their lives. 

What does the CACFP mean to you?
Helping others have access to REAL. GOOD. FOOD.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working with CACFP software?
Just working with the sponsors and providers themselves! I love meeting them and hearing about their work. It’s always very inspiring. 

What has working with CACFP sponsors and providers taught you?
When I first started at Minute Menu (back in 2004) it seemed like the CACFP was all about money and paperwork. But after talking to sponsors and attending conferences, I saw that it was so much more. I’ve heard so many life changing stories and it’s rewarding to be a part of this. Kids that would otherwise be hungry get fed thanks to the CACFP. 

How has your role in the childcare and CACFP space changed over the years?
After working at Minute Menu for 3 years, I moved to Austin, TX and worked for Southwest Human Development Services, a sponsor of Homes. I ended up moving back to Dallas shortly after and have been with Minute Menu ever since! 

How do you promoted a healthy lifestyle with your own family?
I am proud to say that I pack my son a CACFP approved lunch EVERY single day. I will say, it is a struggle sometimes – especially coming up with a vegetable every day. 

Do you have a favorite healthy recipe that follows CACFP guidelines? If so, please share. 

Pesto Pasta served with a Salad and an Apple

Puree the following in a food processor for the pesto:

Fresh basil
Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Pine nuts (or you can substitute walnuts)
Fresh Garlic

Top your cooked whole wheat spaghetti with the pesto and voila! It’s pretty easy!

We served a nice spring mix with grape tomatoes on the side. We use walnuts instead of croutons – added protein and still crunchy and delicious! And I served a delicious apple on the side. Even my 2 year old liked the pesto but the apple was his favorite. Ha!

To learn more about CACFP Week, head to cacfp.org/cacfpweek for tips and activities from the National CACFP Sponsors Association.