Umatilla-Morrow Head Start, Inc. participates in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program. Each class day, Head Start and Early Head Start children receive balanced meals and snacks that include a wide variety of wholesome foods based on the CACFP required meal components. Meals are served family style and each child is encouraged to serve themselves.
Head Start and Early Head Start participants also receive nutrition assessments at the WIC clinics. Diet, height, weight and hemoglobin (a measure of blood iron) and relevant nutrition education are all part of a nutrition assessment. A child may be referred to the Registered Dietitian for more counseling or scheduled for a nutrition class. If the child qualifies for WIC and is not a current participant, they will also be placed on the program at the nutrition assessment.
Classroom and home visit experiences include nutrition activities. This is an important way to teach young children about foods and encourage healthy eating behaviors.
It is important to establish healthy eating habits when a child is young. As a parent or caregiver, the first thing that you may need to do is to check your own eating habits. Don’t expect your child to want water with dinner if you’re drinking soda. If you turn up your nose at fruits and vegetables, chances are your child will, too. For your child’s sake, try expanding your food horizons at this time. You can help your toddler or preschooler develop his own good eating habits by:
- buying a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain breads and cereals.
- allowing your child to choose from the variety of foods you provide.
- setting specific times for meals and snacks.
- providing a healthy breakfast each morning.
- limiting sugary, high-fat snacks and drinks ( they contain little of nutritional value and leave no room for healthy foods).
- avoiding adding excessive salt to foods
- encouraging your child to drink water, not just high-calorie fruit juices and empty-calorie sodas
- avoiding caffeinated foods (such as chocolate) and drinks.
- sitting down and sharing mealtimes with your child.
As your child grows, you can further encourage good eating habits by involving him in grocery shopping, allowing her to help prepare and serve food, and getting him to set the table before meals. Continue to encourage your child to try a wide variety of new foods one at a time, but don’t get discouraged if he sticks to old favorites. Be patient and don’t force new foods. She’ll surprise you one day by taking a bite!