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Child Care and Child Nutrition

by Eric Karolak
May/June 2009
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/child-care-and-child-nutrition/5018766/

Mealtimes in child care make a difference

The meals you serve in child care are an important part of a child’s day. Children learn by example about healthy food choices. And you know well that the nutritious meals you serve are also a time of sharing, learning, and social development. “We consider mealtime to be an important part of life skills development,” a pediatrician and Nebraska center owner explains. Her teachers “sit down for family style meals with our students, expose them to a wide variety of healthy foods, and teach them to try new foods.”

And the food itself is important for healthy development and learning! Hungry children are less able to focus; and researchers tell us that they’re more likely than their non-hungry peers to experience more absences and exhibit generally poor behavior. Preschoolers and school-aged children who experience hunger have higher rates of internalizing problems, such as anxiety. Researchers tell us that children who go hungry in kindergarten are noticeably behind their peers in reading and math by third grade (Partnership for America’s Economic Success, 2008).

With recent increases in food prices, growing emphasis on children’s health issues, and the overall rise in ‘food insecurity’ among families and communities during this ...

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