The Texan mothers/teachers join us again (read their previous post on high school food) to detail the food environment in their daycare, which appears to be neither healthy nor safe. See: Daycare Nutrition Program and Chokable Foods
An Unstable Foundation
I’m new to this parenting gig, and I readily admit that I don’t know everything about raising a child. I am learning as I go – reading books, looking up information online and asking questions of those who are more experienced. I don’t know everything, but I do know that my 15 month old needs to eat, and for now, he is dependent on me getting his food to him.
He had breast milk for eight months and then we began transitioning to formula, baby foods, whole milk and solid food. I have been diligent in trying to provide him with fresh, healthy food because I am building his nutritional foundation, and I want it to be a healthy one. I was astounded when I was provided with the menu of foods served at his day care.
Let me begin by saying, he has had wonderful teachers who have cared for him well, and overall, I have been happy with the school… but who gives a 12 month old an ICE CREAM SANDWICH for a snack? Call me picky, but babies have not yet developed the taste for processed sugar… why introduce it so young?
To be fair, ice cream sandwiches are soft, so they could be eaten by a baby with a couple of teeth… unlike, say, a HAMBURGER and French fries. I am sure the teacher cut the hamburger in little pieces, but in my head, I was envisioning my baby sitting at his lunch table with an entire hamburger sitting in front of him wondering, “What is this and how do I get it in my mouth?”
Some of the other “high points” of the menu include: Little Smokies in barbecue sauce, franks and beans, beefy Sloppy Joe, frosted cake, corn chips, hot dogs and bologna and cheese roll-ups. All processed meats accounted for… check!
After seeing the menu, I made arrangements to send my child with his lunch and snacks every day and the teacher has been more than accommodating in feeding him what I send. I also shared the menu with some of the other parents and got some support (although minimal) for working to change the menu.
When spoke to some of the parents I was shocked by their response. They said things like:
- I don’t like everything on the menu, but I do like the variety.
- I wouldn’t mind healthier options, but when I looked at other daycare’s menus, they were worse.
- I’m just glad he eats anything because he is so picky.
- It’s not great, but we try to eat healthy at home to make up for it.
After a letter writing campaign, I am happy to say that the daycare has opted to change some of the snacks to healthier options like carrot and celery sticks (although I am still not sure how babies with little teeth pull off eating these). Parental awareness is definitely needed. Do parents even know what children are given to eat by their schools and should/do they care?
I think most parents send their children to school with the assumption that they will be well cared for, and many of them are just grateful their children will be receiving something to eat each day. We have to do better than this. We shouldn’t focus on how the school menus “could be worse”. We need to focus on how to make them better. As a society we have to begin to recognize the importance food plays in our health and do a better job of educating and providing our children with fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean meats. Our children are worth it.
NOTE: all guest bloggers have contacted me of their own free will, have given consent, do not know me personally, and are not receiving compensation.