Articles and Advice

Spring 2009 Menu Update

Nutrition and healthy eating habits are fundamental skills for young children.

As your child's caregiver, we play an important role in helping your child learn about and enjoy a variety of nutritious foods. It is our goal to provide a variety of healthful and acceptable meals & snacks that are nutritious, safe, and developmentally appropriate for your child.

Early food and eating experiences are the foundation for lifelong attitudes about food, eating behavior and food habits. Nourishing and attractive food is the cornerstone for health, growth and development as well as lifelong learning experiences.

By ensuring that our menu is consistent with current nutrition guidelines, we are taking necessary steps to make certain that while children are in their early and formative years, they have opportunities to enjoy healthful foods that promote proper growth and development and allow them to learn food preferences and dietary habits that prevent disease and support a lifetime of good health.

Menus are nutritionally adequate and consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

Healthy, growing children need a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; lean meats and/or beans; and low fat dairy products.

Focus on Fruits:

Fruits provide a variety of health benefits and necessary nutrients including vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber that support your child's ongoing growth and development. Nutrition guidelines recommend young children consume between one and 1.5 cups of fruit including no more than 4-6 ounces of 100% fruit juice daily. Our menu incorporates a variety of fresh (seasonal), frozen (apple & peach slices, blueberries), canned (pears, peaches, tropical fruit, mandarin oranges, pineapple), dried fruit (raisins -age 4 & older only), and 100% fruit juice (no more than 3 serving per week) in meals and snacks each day.

Vary your Veggies:

It is not uncommon for young children to refuse or dislike some or all vegetables. Picky Eating is very common. Our goal is to help your child to experience and enjoy a variety of vegetables. Our menu provides young children with the opportunity to be enjoy a variety of familiar and unfamiliar seasonally fresh, frozen (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, edamame, green peas, roasted red, yellow & sweet potatoes), canned (carrots, green peas, green beans, beans -kidney, black, garbanzo, white) & dehydrated (mashed potatoes) vegetables throughout the week. Nutrition guidelines recommend that young children consume between one to two cups of vegetables each day.

Get your Calcium-Rich Foods:

Milk and milk products are an important part of your child's daily nutrient intake. Our meals and snacks include low fat 1% milk (whole milk is served to children age 12-24 months), yogurt & cheese daily. Children age 2-5 require 2 cups per daily of calcium rich foods. For children who do not tolerate milk, we will provide a soy beverage alternative. Please see your center director for additional information.

Nutrition guidelines recommend that children age 24 months and older begin transitioning to low fat (1%) or fat free milk. Low fat/ fat free milk provides the same amount of necessary nutrients including calcium, vitamin A & D as 2% and whole milk without the saturated fat and cholesterol.

Make Half Your Grains -WHOLE GRAINS

Nutrition guidelines recommend that young children consume three to five ounces daily of grains with at least half of the servings being whole grain. This equals 1.5 to three ounces of whole grain per day. Whole grains are a good source of energy, dietary fiber and vitamins and minerals. Our menu offers at least one whole grain serving daily. Whole grains offerings include pasta, biscuit, cereal (both hot & cold), sliced bread, hamburger buns & crackers. Throughout 2009 we will continue to work with our foodservice partners to identify additional opportunities to serve whole grains on our menu.

Go Lean with Protein

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Nuts/Seeds, and Beans/Legumes & Soy provides necessary nutrients that are essential for the development and maintenance of a young child's growing body. Nutrition guidelines recommend that young children age 2-5 consume between two and five ounces of protein-rich foods daily. Our menu includes a variety of familiar and unfamiliar food sources including lean beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, beans & legumes, soy nut butters (peanut-free- see center director for more information) and soy.

Parents should be involved in the nutrition program offered at their child care facility

As a parent, we understand you rely on us to share in the role of "gatekeeper" for your child's nutrient intake. To strengthen our partnership and your involvement in the nutrition program offered at your child care facility, we will be offering the following resources at

  • Interactive Menu featuring recipes, ingredient and allergy information (coming Spring, 2009)
  • Food Allergy Management Resources
  • Nutrition Education Tools & Material
  • Nutrition Blog (coming June, 2009)

Menu questions or concerns please contact:

Stacy Lofton, MS, RD
Corporate Dietitian
Knowledge Learning Corporation

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