Child care providers have the opportunity to create a healthier generation of children by taking steps to prevent obesity and encouraging healthy eating habits that will last a life time. Healthy eating is also necessary for healthy development. These are just two of the reasons to offer children healthy food choices. Healthy food choices will nurture their bodies and fuel brain development. Lifelong eating habits are formed during the early childhood years. However, it is not just about the foods served. Healthy eating habits are influenced by the mealtime experience and other learning activities involving food like gardening and taste tests. Meal times are the perfect time to talk about healthy foods by describing them and responding positively to the children’s reactions.
Child and Adult Care Food Program
Participants on the Child and Adult Care Food Program learn to serve meals and snacks that provide nutrients children need to be healthy, without too much sodium, solid fats and added sugars. Providers can lower the risk of food borne illness by making sure that the food is safe to eat and the food preparation areas are clean. Providers offer opportunities for active play, one of the major goals in the prevention of obesity.
The nutrition resources and activities on this page are designed to help child care providers serve healthy meals and snacks by providing easy and accessible information right at the tip of your fingers.
Description of Family Style Meals
Meals are an important time for children to learn social, physical, and emotional skills. The food eaten at meal time helps a child grow physically. The way meals are served and the eating setting can help a child develop socially.
One way to serve foods in a pleasant, relaxed setting is with family style meals, which is the preferred method of meal service by the CACFP. In family style meal service, children serve themselves or serve themselves with an adult’s help. All of the food for the meal is placed in serving bowls on the table. The children and provider sit together at the same table for the meal.
This method of meal service benefits both children and provider. Children are exposed to 10 different developmental areas at every mealtime! These areas are language development, literacy, math, science, physical development & health, social & emotional development, social studies knowledge, creative arts, logic and reasoning, and approaches to learning.
What an opportunity! That’s a lot of growth and exposure in a very short time!
Did You Know?
We have a set of child size serving dishes and utensils that can be signed out through our lending library, if you would like to try them in your program!
We would love to provide assistance and support for you as you incorporate Family Style Meals into your program!
Please contact us at any time.
“I just had to tell that both yesterday and today I served lunch and snack family style and did the kids ever love it! They actually ate more than usual and were so excited that they were actually allowed to help themselves. It gave them a sense of independence and also engaged them in a fantastic conversation. We also had a blast playing the game I borrowed. Thank you!”
– J. McKinney
Nutrition Fun & Activities
Make good nutrition part of your curriculum! Have children use their senses to explore the foods around them! Discuss colors, shapes, textures , tastes, smells! Explore the foods before and after they are cooked. Make a chart of foods that are being tasted.
Talk with your children about how different each other’s likes and dislikes can be! That is the beauty of difference! If everyone loved asparagus as much as I do, there may not be enough for me to have a third helping!!!!
Young children learn best when learning experiences are hands-on and playful. Check out this link for some engaging nutrition activities including gardening, games and sensory explorations.
*When using these websites, please keep in mind that SACCN has provided these links because they contain ideas that you may find useful in your programs. We are not responsible for the content of these websites, and would encourage you to choose activities that are developmentally appropriate for the children in your care.
Choose the “My Plate” system to plan well balanced meals and meet the USDA dietary guidelines. The link below will bring you to the “My Plate” website, where you will have access to nutrition information, games, and printable materials.
Cooking with kids! What better way to get kids to make healthy food choices than to cook with them! The following link will give you some good ideas and get you started!
Let kids do the cooking with recipe picture books that bring the whole family together. You’re never too young- or old- to learn to cook.
Here at Chopchop Family, we believe that cooking is life’s most important skill. Cooking helps create healthy minds and bodies, and great memories and nourishes families.
Exploring nutrition through books is always a good idea! Use this link to see a list of books worth checking out. The books are for sale on the website, but we have some of them in our lending library, and you can always check your local library as well!
Fun! Fun! Fun!
Here is a great activity to try in your program. You can modify it to fit any age group! You can use pictures instead of words. (Cut from newspaper ads, computer or hand drawn). You can use real food, play food, pictures of food, etc., to match and put in the correct bags. It provides physical activity and education about healthy foods at the same time!
Look for monthly updates from the CACFP Coordinator for engaging activities!
CACFP Lending Library
The Southern Adirondack Child Care Network has a lending library for child care providers who participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
The items in the lending library can be a great resource for introducing new and healthy foods. We have found that approaching healthy eating with a positive and fun attitude can be the key to success! Games, books, and activities are sure to help!
We would love to support you as you introduce healthy eating in your child care programs!
Please feel free to scroll through our lending library list of items. If you see something you’d like to borrow for your program, send us an email at [email protected], or give us a call and we will make arrangements for you to “sign out” the book or game of your choice.
This institute is an equal opportunity provider.