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expectations for eating lunch

  • 1.  expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-19-2019 07:48 AM



    We do not have a food program at our center, so lunch comes from home in a lunch box.  Can anyone in the same situation tell me what your expectations are for how children eat?  Do children choose which items to start with, or do teachers?  Do you encourage "healthy foods first?"  Who decides when children have eaten enough?  What do you do when treats are included?


    Thank you!




    Teri Windisch, Director

    Children's Village at Doylestown Hospital

  • 2.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-19-2019 12:05 PM
    We have some students who bring a lunch each day. We do tell the students that they need to start with their healthy options first and save treats for dessert. It is pretty clear to see what is the "main" dish and what's the "treat". After some time, we also get a sense of what each child needs to feel full. For many of our kindergartners, for example, a half of a sandwich with a side of fruit and a milk is plenty.

    Tara Guido
    Kindergarten Teacher
    STEM Coordinator PreK-2
    St. Benedict School
    Holmdel, NJ

  • 3.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-20-2019 07:18 AM
    We are not on a food program either.  Many of our kids bring Lunchables in their lunchboxes that contain a candy or cookie treat.  We do have them put their candy/cookies away and eat the rest of their lunch before they eat them.  We try and monitor the others as well to make sure that they are eating most of what their parents pack for them before they eat their sweets.  There are some that get to the candy before we notice, but for the most part, they all abide by our request to eat it last.

    Natalie Mcintire
    Helen Lieber Early Learning Academy
    Hartford City IN

  • 4.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-21-2019 04:36 PM
      |   view attached
    We follow nutritionist Ellyn Satter's division of responsibility. (She has a nice website with feeding guidelines) . Adults do not bribe or coerce or shame children to eat more or less. Adults are only responsible for providing healthy food choices and regularly scheduled meals and snacks. Children are responsible for what they eat and how much they eat.

    We talk to our parents about this and give suggestions on how to pack a healthy lunch. We present all components of the meals together and children can eat their lunches (sent from home) in any order they choose.  When we serve snacks we eat family style and children serve themselves.  I have followed this model for children ages 18 months - 5 and believe in it wholeheartedly although I know for many teachers it takes some shifts as our beliefs around food are so deeply personal.

    I've attached a lunch tip flyer I emailed to all our families this year.

    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY


    LUNCH TIPS.pdf   543K 1 version

  • 5.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-20-2019 06:16 AM
    I also do not have a food program for my Pre-K class, and rely on parents to send in a nutritious lunch. I provide them with the guidelines of grain, protein, fruit/vegetable; with us providing the milk.  I let them know I will not allow food to be a power struggle in my room, and if their child wants to eat the treat first I am going to let them, so be discriminant on what they pack, and for the most part parents are really good with this.
    It was hard, at first, letting go of the eating your healthy food first rule, but since we have lunch time has become a lot less stressful for the students and myself. I find that after they eat the treat, they are still hungry, and end up eating the healthy food. Many of times since the struggle is no longer there they eat healthy first and then the treat. The greatest advantage is that I no longer spend the whole lunch period negotiating with the child over their eating, now they just eat their food and spend less time obsessing over when they can have the treat, it is theirs for whenever they want it.
    Hope this helps!
    Happy Eating,

    Barbara Pedigo
    Gesu Elementary
    Toledo OH

  • 6.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-20-2019 09:29 AM
    We have a similar policy as Barbara for the same reasons. We feel as though the parents pack the lunches, so they have already thought about what they are packing. We allow the children to choose what they want to start with first. This differs slightly in our toddler classroom, where a teacher might give the child a few options from their box, so the child does not become overwhelmed. However many of the children have "bento box" style lunches so their "treat", if there is one, is just one more thing for them to choose from.
    We need to think hard about rewarding children with their treat, if they eat their healthy food first. I'm not sure this is the best way for children to view food. We can talk to parents privately about food choices, but we need to be respectful of cultural and family differences and their relationships to food.

    Janet Bauer
    Windy Hill School
    New London, NH

  • 7.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-20-2019 09:23 AM
    We have some locations in food service states and some in others that aren't required to serve lunch.  In our non-food service locations we ask that the parents send what they think their child will eat but keep in mind that lunch is meant to be a socially positive experience with their peers and teachers.  With that being said, the teachers are asked to model healthy eating but will not reprimand a child for eating their treat first.  Some teachers are able to encourage parents to make treats part healthy by adding things like special fruit dips that have a sweet taste, but encourage the child to eat the fruit.  The children will not be getting anyone at elementary school telling them to eat their treat last, so starting them off with an understanding of the benefits of food in younger years is quite helpful.
    When I was a teacher, I would also have at least quarterly opportunities for the children to participate in a potluck type meal with a theme.  (I.e. green food, shape food, etc.) This allowed them to concentrate on other aspects of their food then whether it was a treat or not.  It helped several families who swore their children were picky eaters to see how they could present food differently.

    Deanna Jackson
    Education Support Specialist
    Goddard Systems Inc

    Deanna Jackson
    Education Support Specialist
    Goddard Systems Inc
    Upper Arlngtn OH

  • 8.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-20-2019 11:30 AM
    For five years I was in a classroom where the children brought lunch from home.  Instead of food choices, we focused more on speaking with the children to really develop those relationships.  Lunch was a time of day we all looked forward to.  We thought about modeling what we wanted to see, and found that if we had an apple in our lunch several days in a row, some children would show up with an apple in theirs.  Most children made good choices. Power struggles are negative for everyone - and especially so when it is over food.

    Andrea Dekker
    Technical Assistant, QIRS System
    United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
    Tucson AZ

  • 9.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-21-2019 11:20 AM

    We sent home nutritional guidelines for packed lunches and asked parents to save sweets and chips for home. In Ohio we had to supplement the lunch if it had no protein, fruit/veg, etc. so we offered the missing items; but never insisted that anyone eat anything. We let children make their own choices when eating lunch; it was much more pleasant that way. The majority of children had mostly good choices and we offered a healthy snack AM and PM. We left uneaten food in the lunch box so parents could see what their child had/not eaten.

    One year my class loved the Spoon book (Rosenthal and Magoon). I had checked it out of the library and they wanted me to buy it for them.  I said if they wanted it they should earn the money and buy it themselves.  We made our own lunches one day and charged each child $1.  They filled out an "order form" for a sandwich, fruit/veg. and milk/water and everyone chose a job to make it happen.  We made enough money to buy the book and learned about the world of work. If you want something, earn the money and buy it.

    Vicki Knauerhase M.Ed.
    Child Development Specialist (retired)
    Weston OH

  • 10.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-25-2019 06:22 PM
    AS far as lunch program discussion is concerned. Early School Education is a resource for teachers to bring in the discussion of the role of greens once a day at least, carbohydrates, proteins and fruit as minerals. I visited Wheeler school fro 2.5 - 3 year old education. They are very strict about advising no nuts, no peanut butter and vegetarians have a full meal choice. There is an option for buying lunch from school cafeteria. It is a wonderful, educational program and I am impressed with the knowledge a 3 year old shows towards a balanced meal. When taught, younger age groups can be molded very easily into accepting a healthy meal choice program.
     I know of children who has celiac disease diagnosed at 12 months of age and raised with education, who could tell the preschool teacher that he could not have gluten in a certain food at 2.5 years of age. This is NURTURE and Brain learning through dynamic parenting.
    I know of a 2 year old who would ask the mother what is my greens today for lunch when mom forgot to pack the greens or had no time to go grocery shopping.
    I want to know if any preschool program has any restrictions on allowing nuts , shell sea food as the smell itself can cause anaphylactic reaction.
    Many schools do not have provisions for healthy vegetarian meal that can give protein like lentils, healthy steamed greens and Quinoa or healthy poly complex carbohydrate.
    What is the usual trend in preschool and early preschool programs???

    [Meena Chintapalli, M.D. F.A.A.P
    Founder and C. E.O of A thru Z Pediatric Clinics, retired December, 2018.
    Founder and CEO of The SAI Institute Of Educare
    April, 2002.
    Society For Assistance International
    San Antonio, Texas.[FirstName]

  • 11.  RE: expectations for eating lunch

    Posted 09-25-2019 06:25 PM
    In your Kinder to Grade 6 programs parents are to provide all meals and snacks. We have a healthy eating policy in our Parent Handbook, that tells parents to keep treats like cookies, chips and candy at home, or to tell their child to eat it at school. In our program those treats are set aside and sent home at pick-up.

    We rarely have issues with this age of children understanding that some foods are allowed to be eaten at the location and other foods are not. We allow the children to decide how much and of what foods (inside our food policy) they eat. We encourage more food if we know that child will be hungry again in a short amount of time, but no forcing them to eat more.

    Chantalle Wakelin
    Operations Manager
    Summit Start
    Calgary AB