Saying Goodbye to Junk Food
“I could not stand junk food being brought into our program any longer,” says Oakridge Child Care Center Director, Maritza Lopez. “We knew how much the children could benefit from healthier eating and family-style dining.”
In the beginning, the program’s menus included foods that were fried and breaded. Water was made available, but it was only located outside the classrooms. Lopez began working with food vendors to find healthier food options to serve in their program. With the vendors’ help, the program’s menu changed. Whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and fresh fruit were served. Additionally, 100% fruit juice was limited to 4-6 ounces daily.
The children, program staff and families responded wonderfully to the changes. The children became more involved in trying new and healthy foods and began to enjoy eating their meals together. Program staff used MyPlate Healthy Food Play Sets in the classrooms to engage children in creating menus, cooking and serving healthy foods.
To engage families, Lopez provides information about healthy eating at home, and families are invited once a month to join the children for a meal or snack. “We are planning on hosting holiday meals with parents family-style. We think this is a great opportunity to model for families and talk about events we could do together.”
Lopez remarks, “We were inspired to develop goals, prioritize those goals and put them into practice. Now we have proof of our success. Children will eat healthy food and family-style dining works.”