The philosophy of the CDC food program is to provide the CDC community with wholesome, nutritional snacks and meals. Research shows that a child’s early experiences with food impact both future eating habits and overall health. In order to be responsive to this and support the growing nutritional needs of our age group, the menu is planned around a variety of foods served in a family style atmosphere.
The nutrition program is built on the understanding that children learn sound nutritional habits through exposure and by imitating the adults and children around them. Therefore the food and the environment at meal times take on equal importance. In an effort to provide social opportunities for children and a more homelike environment, we serve our food “family style” at the table as it becomes age appropriate. The “family style” setting of meal times allows teachers and children important opportunities for learning and building community as they sit together eating and conversing. Children are introduced to basic table etiquette and personal responsibility in preparing for and cleaning up after meals. At all ages the children are respectfully encouraged to exercise their growing self help skills and independence. Food is never treated as a reward or punishment.
The menu is developed using the nutritional guidelines from the USDA food program and in continued consultation with parents, classroom teachers, our food vendor and other health professionals. Our lunch meal meets roughly 1/3 of a child’s daily nutritional needs and must include one serving from each of the following groups: milk; breads and grains; protein; fruit and vegetables. According to licensing guides no liquids other than milk, formula, water, and 100 percent fruit juice shall be served.
When planning and selecting our menu we consider these overarching goals:
- Nutritionally balanced
- To offer foods that are prepared in developmentally appropriate ways enabling children to be successful and independent eaters
- To be respectful of individual and family food preferences and restrictions
- To be inclusive of diverse cultures
- To introduce children to a variety of flavors and expand their palate
- To offer both familiar and new foods
Home to school partnership for the food program- the nuts and bolts:
- The menu is posted monthly in each classroom and on the CDC web page.
- All food allergies and restrictions are prominently posted within the classrooms; Additional medical protocols are designed when needed in consultation with your pediatrician and the school.
- Parents are required to provide food substitutions to provide a balanced diet whenever necessary for their individual child due to allergies and/or food preferences (eg. dairy alternatives, vegetarian entrees on meat days, etc.)