Lunch and a morning and afternoon snack are served. Care is taken to ensure that snacks are nutritious and appropriate portions are served. The program follows the dietary guidelines of the USDA Child and Adult Food Program. Food substitutions are made for children with allergies or to honor families' personal preferences. Food restrictions are posted in the kitchen and in all classrooms.
Snack and lunch menus are posted in the kitchen, reception area, and in each classroom. A copy of the menu is sent home on a monthly basis. Families who do not opt for the catered food service are required to send in a lunch from home.
Providing a healthy, nutritional lunch is important for children's growth and development. An article in The Detroit Free Press provided good information for parents about packing children's lunches.
A Guide To Packing Children's Lunches – Taken from Detroit Free Press, August 15, 2005
Ingredients for a healthy lunch
- A sandwich
- Canned of fresh fruit
- Veggies like baby carrots or celery
- Skim or low-fat milk in a single-serving container, or low-fat yogurt
- Something fun, like a granola bar or low-fat pudding
How to build a healthy sandwich
- The outside: whole-grain bread, bagel or tortilla
- The inside: lean meat, tuna, low-fat cheese or peanut butter
- For extra flavor: spicy mustard or ketchup
- Go light on: mayonnaise
- Pile on the extras: lettuce, tomato slices, green pepper and cucumber
Source: Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight, Eastern Michigan University
Tips for parents
- Let your kids help make lunch. They're more likely to eat it if they have some say in the menu and preparation.
- Keep lunches cold for food safety by using an ice pack.
- When it comes to treats, less is better. Keep the portions small and the number of servings few.
- For beverages, stick to water, milk or an 8-ouce or less serving of juice. Look for 100% fruit juices that have added vitamin C. Chocolate milk is an option for children who don't like white milk.
- Make things easy for young kids. Slice up fruit and vegetables. Open those cans of fruit with the tab and transfer the food to a small plastic container that your child can easily open.
- When choosing lunch meat, opt for those lower in fat, preferably containing less than 30% fat.
- Let your kids see how important healthy eating is by eating healthy yourself. If you don't want your kids eating junk food, don't keep it in the house. If it's there and they're hungry, the kid will eat it.
Source: Nutrition Experts
Snack and lunchtime are considered a social time, a time to practice self-help skills, and a time to be exposed to healthy eating. Teachers facilitate conversations among children. Children are encouraged to serve themselves and clean up their snack/lunch items. They are encouraged to sample a variety of foods but are not forced to eat anything they do not want.
All uneaten perishable foods are thrown away. Any non-perishable foods that have been opened and exposed to the air are also thrown away.
Food from Home Policy
Food that comes from home for sharing among the children must be either whole fruits or commercially prepared packaged food in factory-sealed containers. Homemade baked goods or meals are not allowed.