Snacks and Meals
ECDC is concerned about the quality of the food children eat and its healthiness. ECDC adheres to a food program that consists of snacks and lunches that are low in sugar, contain whole grains, and contain limited preservatives and additives in addition to serving organic fruits and vegetables for many snacks. The Licensing Consultant from the Indiana Licensing Department reviews and approves the ECDC food program, including all menus. The ECDC food program and menus are consistent with the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (USDA CACFP) and were developed in consultation with a licensed nutritionist. Breakfast, snacks and lunch are scheduled so that they are no more than three hours apart or closer than two hours apart.
ECDC provides an optional healthy breakfast consisting of a variety of breakfast items, including oatmeal, waffles, yogurt, cold cereal, fruit, and toast. ECDC serves breakfast between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
ECDC provides a healthy morning snack at approximately 10:00am and in the afternoon snack is served at approximately 3:00pm. Water is served for snack along with a wide variety of crackers, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables (many organic), and cheese. Milk is served occasionally for afternoon snack.
The ECDC food program is licensed by the State of Indiana and is catered by the Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame Food Service Programs. Each lunch consists of a main dish, salad, vegetable, bread and butter, and a piece of fresh fruit (apple, oranges, bananas, or pears). Multicultural lunch entrees, such as Chicken Stir Fry, Beef Tacos, Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Chicken Fajitas, are served at least once per week.
If your child has food allergies or sensitivities, please note these on the Emergency Health Plan and have the form signed by your child’s doctor. Please also contact the ECDC office to make an appointment to discuss alternate food options for your child and to review menus.
Vegetarian Entrée at ECDC-ND
Due to the number of children eating vegetarian lunches, ECDC-ND offers a vegetarian entrée each day (e.g., garden chicken grill patty, homemade baked vegetarian manicotti, vegetarian sloppy joe, etc.). If you would like your child to eat the vegetarian entree, please indicate such on your child’s General Information form. A child will receive the vegetarian entrée until a parent informs ECDC otherwise.
Vegetarian Entrée at ECDC-SMC
If your child needs a vegetarian entrée at ECDC-SMC, please speak with the ECDC-SMC Program Director to make arrangements.
Food Substitutions Provided by Families for Meals or Snacks
The Indiana state licensing regulations require a doctor’s note for any food substitutions. All food substitutions must be commercially prepared and sealed. Homemade food items are not allowed per Indiana State Licensing Regulations and NAEYC Accreditation Standards. Parents providing food substitutions are required to sign a Safe Food Transportation Form that is available at the front desk/office. ECDC-SMC and ECDC-ND have food service rooms, however, do not have kitchens, therefore, ECDC is unable to prepare or cook foods to serve children. ECDC staff take steps to ensure the safety of food brought from home by working with families to ensure that foods brought from home meet the USDA’s CACFP food guidelines. More information about the USDA CACFP program can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/CND/Care/CACFP/aboutcacfp.htm. All foods and beverages brought from home are labeled with the child’s name and date. Staff make sure that food requiring refrigeration stays cold until served. If your child requires food substitutions for meals or snacks due to medical or religious reasons, please speak with the ECDC Program Director.
Food Supplements Provided by Families for Meals or Snacks
Occasionally, families request to supplement meals and/or snacks with additional foods. Food supplements are food items served to the child in addition to the scheduled snack or meal food items served. All food supplements must be healthy and commercially prepared and sealed. Homemade food items are not allowed per Indiana State Licensing Regulations and NAEYC Accreditation Standards. Examples of acceptable and healthy food supplements include yogurt, hummus, fruit, fruit cup, and string cheese. Supplements that are not acceptable include Twinkies, cakes, donuts, and candy. Parents providing food supplements are required to sign a Safe Food Transportation Form that is available at the front desk/office. ECDC-SMC and ECDC-ND have food service rooms, however, do not have kitchens, therefore, ECDC is unable to prepare or cook foods to serve children. ECDC staff work with families to ensure the safety of food brought from home to ensure that food items brought from home meet the USDA’s CACFP food guidelines. More information about the USDA CACFP program can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/CND/Care/CACFP/aboutcacfp.htm. All foods and beverages brought from home are labeled with the child’s name and date. Staff make sure that food requiring refrigeration stays cold until served. If your child requires food supplements for meals or snacks due to medical or religious reasons, please speak with the ECDC Program Director.
Food Considered Choking Hazards Are Not Served at ECDC
To prevent possible choking, ECDC does not offer children the following foods: hot dogs, whole grapes, nuts, raw peas, hard pretzels, spoonfuls of peanut butter, chunks of raw carrots or meat larger than can be swallowed whole. Popcorn is only served to children four and older and is served infrequently. As needed, ECDC teachers and staff cut meat entrees and other solid foods for children younger than four years old to prevent choking.
Encouragement of Eating Various Food Items
Through spontaneous conversation at the lunch tables, children are encouraged to taste all the food on their plates. The teachers encourage food exploration and remind the children of the Dr. Seuss book GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Often the children discover they do indeed like something that they had thought they would not like. We do not force the children to clean their plates or count how many bites children eat; rather, through a positive approach, we encourage children to taste foods that are unfamiliar to them. Teachers also use snack and meal times to talk about good nutrition and why we need to eat certain foods. At least once per year, each activity room has a project/study focused on food and nutrition.
Parents Visiting for Lunch
Parents of children who eat lunch at ECDC are welcome to come and join their children for lunch any day throughout the year. Lunch is served promptly at noon; all a parent needs to do is bring his or her own sack lunch. For those children enrolled all day, parents should also feel free to take their children out to lunch any time during the hours of 11:30 – 1:00. In the past, parents have found this to be extremely pleasant and successful after their child has adjusted to school and the daily routine and is not upset by separations.