The nutrition education component of the child’s Head Start experience focuses on both the variety and types of food modeled in the classroom as well as the emotional and physical environment in which the food is served. Important nutrition related objectives include the following,
Provide food that will help meet the child’s daily nutritional needs in a pleasant environment recognizing individual differences and cultural patterns.
A variety of food is served which broadens each child’s food experience.
Promote physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth and development.
Provide an environment that will support and promote the use of the feeding situation as an opportunity for learning.
Provide opportunities for staff, children, and parents to learn and gain an understanding of the relationship between good nutritional habits and increased health and well being, include the factors which influence eating habits.
Demonstrate the interrelationships of nutrition to other activities of the Head Start Program and its contribution to the overall child development goals.
Involve all staff, parents, and community agencies, as appropriate, in helping to meet each child’s nutritional needs. Nutritional care provided by Head Start should compliment and supplement that of the home and community.
Provide learning and decision making experiences through participation in mealtime activities – setting table, preparing food, serving food, sampling unfamiliar food, pouring milk, cleaning up, etc.
The preschool child is impressionable and enjoys imitating his/her peers and adult caretakers. Parents, teachers, and other adults play an important role in shaping the child’s attitude toward the acceptance of nutritious foods. Adults in the classroom are expected to reinforce positive food attitudes by eating and socializing with the children at mealtimes.