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


  1. Staff will receive appropriate cooking project recipes from the Cooking Project Calendar located in the Teacher toolkit. Recipes for each individual project are emailed with the monthly menu and located in a shared folder.  
  2. Cooking projects will reflect the Head Start and U.S.D.A. nutrition guidelines to ensure that children are taught healthy food habits.
    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
  3. Cooking project recipes are analyzed using the USDA Food Buying Guide and/or RAW to determine creditability for meal components. All cooking projects scheduled include the required components for the meal and should be served as written on the menu.  
  4. Ingredients for the cooking project are delivered prior to the scheduled meal. Some cooking projects may be delivered in advance to allow for additional preparation. 
  5. Food needed for cooking projects is ordered by the Food Service Manager, Head Start Central Kitchen.
  6. 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.
  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. All hands are washed before starting the project and children should assist with cleaning up. (see Handwashing policy)
  9. Ingredients should be served family style if applicable. Recipes that can be prepared individually can prevent the spread of germs. Staff are responsible for monitoring sanitation practices while making recipes in communal bowls.  
  10. Staff can order a “build your own cooking project by consulting with the Food Service Manager. Additional notice is required for ordering  ingredients.
  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.  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. April 2024
Updated July 18, 2000. July 24, 2002. July 14, 2004. June 2008. June 2009. April 2014. August 2015. March 2024
©1995-2024. Head Start of Lane County. All rights reserved.

REVIEWED: March 2024