The results of the survey were sent home with every child. What I loved about the survey was that the day care listed every food item they have on their menu, they added more information about the food (canned versus fresh fruit), and then asked a simple question about frequency with straightforward answers (Keep as is/Remove/Increase frequency/Decrease frequency).
1) The vast majority of parents are highly satisfied with the food at daycare. Most people clicked “Keep as is” for all the food items. Approval ratings hovered around 90%. For example, the blueberry muffins that the day care gives out at snack time, and sometimes as part of the meal, are junky. The mini-sized Spunkmeyers are undoubtedly made with white flour and all look identical like they came straight from the factory. Maybe I’m one of the few parents who has seen the cook deliver these to the rooms, but on the survey 94% of parents said “Keep as is” for the muffins. Disappointing.
2) Parents don’t mind about the ice cream. Eighty-nine percent of parents agreed that ice cream should be kept as is. Seriously? In our house, ice cream is a seasonal food. My little guy barely had any ice cream all winter (maybe once a month), but now that it’s getting hotter, he has gotten ice cream twice this week already. I really want to be the one to determine when he gets this special treat.
3) Fresh fruit is in while canned fruit is out. For snack time. a whopping 25% of people want to increase the frequency of fresh fruit on the menu and 10% of parents want to decrease canned fruit. And for lunch the number of parents interested in decreasing canned fruit rises to 19%.
4) Less beef and more whole grains. The survey respondents want less beef (8%). When you scan the monthly menu, ground beef is offered at least twice a week. It’s excessive in my opinion. Parents want to see increases in whole wheat bread (15%) and spaghetti (7%) and they want to drop any remaining white bread (10%). For what it’s worth, I have never seen the kids with white bread.
5) More soup and more chicken nuggets!? Parents want more chicken soup (7%) and, even more surprisingly, 8% of parents want more chicken nuggets on the menu. This is where the ingredients matter. I’d welcome made from scratch chicken soup (without the MSG that’s in canned soups under various aliases) and scratch chicken nuggets (no pink chicken foam), but I don’t see that happening at my son’s day care. They have a cook, but that’s only one person for a few hundred kids. I think they’d need more personnel and space to make healthier food.
When I pick up my son, there’s a super chatty guy behind the counter and we talk a little bit. It must have gotten around that I sent in the letter because he started telling me about the new snacks they are looking into. He mentioned that the manager is redoing a least part of the menu to make it healthier. I have a feeling that I’ll be blogging even more about day care food in the future.
I think that my letter requesting a parent survey was a tipping point. They must have already been thinking about change and needed a little push. Honestly, we pay a small fortune for day care for our son ($1,100 per month) and they enrich the kids’ experience with music programs and special visitors. Now that the day care is taking a closer look at the food, it can only make the place better.
No matter what the day care decides to do about the menu, requesting parental input was smart of them. It makes them look good because it shows that they care about parents’ opinions. I am looking forward to June’s menu…