Purple Carrots at Brainy Tots Preschool
Maggie Gray, the Director of Brainy Tots Bilingual Preschool in Florissant, Missouri, discovered she and the children in her family child care program were eating the same fruits and vegetables each day. Although they were eating nutritious meals, Maggie felt the menus weren’t adventurous enough. After some reflection, Maggie decided to promote change in her program.
While participating in the Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative (ECELC) in 2017, Maggie learned of different ways to expand her menu. Maggie began incorporating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into the meals; serving new adventurous food was only one part of her new plan. Maggie learned that in order for children to enjoy these new healthy meals, she would need to model the behavior of trying these new foods as well.
Pushing through her own hesitation, Maggie made a veggie tray with different colored carrots. The children were aware of Maggie’s reluctance of eating multi-colored carrots. When Maggie decided to try the purple carrot, she was not only shocked that it tasted like a carrot, but that she also loved it! The children were very excited that she joined them on this carrot adventure. Maggie stated, “I was surprised how willing the children were to try the new carrots. Doing it together made all the difference.” Since then, the children love trying new foods so much they are now growing their own herb, fruit and vegetable mini-garden.
Currently, Maggie serves most of their fresh fruits and vegetables in a veggie-tray style. This method gives the children an opportunity to pick what they would like to try. The children have learned that if they take a bite and do not like it, they can still be proud of themselves for attempting something new. Maggie has also included the process of trying new foods together in her parent handbook. She encourages families to follow a similar process as it eliminates the power struggles between parent and child, and it makes the process of eating new foods fun.