Dear Families,

Did you know March is National Nutrition Month?
Nutrition is a popular and important subject, even in early education. The first National Nutrition Month-long celebration occurred in 1980. Here at The Children’s Center, we take eating well seriously, and are fortunate to have Kelly Murphy thoughtfully planning our meals and snacks each day.

Look at various websites celebrating National Nutrition Month and you will find encouragement to:

--include a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups (for both daily meals and snacks),
-- shop local whenever possible (cannot wait for the farmers’ markets to be back in full swing!),
-- sit down and eat dinner as a family while being mindful of portion sizes. (Experts also talk about eating slowly so we better know when we are full.)

Last March I shared that we were the recipient of a NAP SACC (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) grant. Our participation included setting an action plan for ongoing improvements around nutrition – and then the pandemic hit. Our goals a year ago included:

  1. Preschool and school age children choosing and serving foods themselves. Due to the unhealthy risks associated with the pandemic, we could not follow through on this. Our teachers will continue to serve all our meals and snacks for the foreseeable future. However, Kelly engages with our classrooms and honors healthy menu requests that come from the kids. We talk about “healthy choices” often. If your family has a wholesome, favorite snack you would like to share, let us know! We would love to incorporate your input into our menu planning process.
  2. Vegetables offered at least 2 times per day. Kelly has done a great job “sneaking” more veggies into our daily menu. One of my favorite morning snacks are the baked green beans. Kelly also reminded me recently when we were discussing sodium content, that she does not serve canned vegetables (which can have a lot of salt). If not fresh, she uses vegetables that are flash frozen with zero sodium.
  3. When children request seconds, teachers ask them if they are still hungry before serving more. This best practice isn’t about not serving more food, but rather helping younger children start to learn about listening to their bodies and understanding when they are hungry – or full – so they can better regulate how much food to eat. We also let a child know that it is OK to stop eating if he or she feels full. This encourages kids to respond to their own hunger and fullness cues.

We will continue to focus on these last two nutrition goals, and we will continue to find new ways to best serve the children in our care. For more ideas and resources on the topic, watch for several social media posts this month.

Happy and healthy eating!

Teri Ann