As a part of the total nutrition education plan, teachers will ensure that children are introduced to a variety of nutritious foods through the use of classroom cooking projects. Cooking projects should be part of the Creative Curriculum.


  1. Staff will receive appropriate cooking project recipes from the Cooking Project Calendar.
    1. Cooking projects will reflect the Head Start and U.S.D.A. nutrition guidelines to ensure that children are taught healthy food habits and is based on best nutrition practices.
      1. Increase the variety of fruits and vegetables
      2. Increase the proportion of whole grains
      3. Decrease the amount of solid fats and trans fats
      4. Decrease the amount of added sugars
      5. Decrease the amount of sodium
      6. Increase the variety of foods offered for snack.
  2. Instructions for implementation of cooking projects are developed by the teaching staff and approved by the Regional Manager (Consultation will occur with Health and Nutrition Team).
  3. Before teachers and staff conduct cooking projects they will complete an order form (Memorandum-supply) and submit the form to the Regional Manager for approval. Follow order dates on the Cooking Project Calendar.
  4. Food needed for cooking projects is ordered by the Food Service Manager, Head Start Central Kitchen.
  5. Nutrition concepts, health, language, math, wellness, science, categorization of foods, and other concepts should be included in the learning experience. Questions should be encouraged and answered. Additionally, in October three shelf stable items can be ordered (i.e. popcorn, pancake mix, etc.)
  6. Large picture recipes with teaching strategies should be used in each cooking project.
  7. Sites should develop lesson plans whereby cooking projects occur in every classroom a minimum of one time per month and are documented in the lesson plans. (see Curriculum Planning policy)
  8. Separate clean tasting spoons should be available to prevent the spread of germs.
  9. In any nutrition activity where food is going to be eaten raw (vegetable people, salsa, fruit salad, etc.) children must handle or touch only the food they will be eating. Food handled by the children must never be placed into a community bowl for consumption unless the ingredients are going to be fully cooked.
  10. All hands are washed before starting the project and children should assist with cleaning up. (see Handwashing policy)
  11. We encourage staff to bring children to the central office kitchen to observe how foods are prepared and to see how the equipment works. This activity must be handled as an organized field trip with four or five children to each adult visiting the kitchen. Advance coordination with the Food Service Manager is required. (see Fieldtrips and Visitors in the Kitchen policy)

This policy complies with Head Start Performance Standard 45CFR Section 1304.23.
It was approved by Policy Council on October 14, 1997. September 8, 2015
Updated July 18, 2000. July 24, 2002. July 14, 2004. June 2008. June 2009. April 2014. August 2015
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