PCI Nutrition Services participates with the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to provide each child with nutritious meals and snacks to meet 1/2 to 2/3 of his/her daily nutritional needs. Therefore, all children enrolled in full-day, part-day and double session will be offered breakfast, lunch and/or a p.m. snack.
Menus are developed by a Registered Dietitian to comply with CACFP meal patterns, and serving sizes are appropriate for each child’s age. PCI’s menu offers foods that vary in culture, color, texture, temperature, size and shape. All meals and snacks are served in a family style meal service setting. Infants are fed on demand in accordance with written feeding instructions provided by the parent and/or physician. All children are encouraged to eat; however, no child is ever forced to eat.
PCI receives federal cash assistance to serve healthy meals. To learn more click here: /sites/default/files/2019-building-for-the-future-english-spanish__0.pdf
Parents have the right to breastfeed or provide breast milk to the center. A comfortable location will be provided in the center or within a classroom that allows a mother to breastfeed her child. Appropriate storage will be provided for mothers who want to bring in breastmilk for later use at the center. Staff will ensure that breast-fed infants receive only breast milk provided by the parent.
PCI purchases all food and drinks needed for each meal and snack for every infant, toddler, and preschool child. In addition, special diet foods are purchased and provided to those children with special nutritional needs as specified in their physician’s written instructions. Parents are not asked to provide any food/drink needed for meals and snacks since PCI receives reimbursement from USDA specifically for this purpose.
Meals and Food Service Practices
Family style eating with balanced, nutritious meals gives children an opportunity to learn about healthy eating habits with support from their peers. PCI Head Start's child nutrition services help families in meeting each child's nutritional needs and in establishing good eating habits that nurture healthy development and promote life-long well-being. If necessary a registered dietitian or nutritionist will follow-up with child's parent or guardian to address the child and family's nutritional needs. PCI ensures safe drinking water is available to children. Referrals are made to WIC and other community agencies when necessary.
It is the parent's responsibility to inform the teacher if their child has any food allergies or if the child is on a special diet. A doctor's statement is required for special diets for medical reasons in order for specific adjustments to be made to the meals served.
Mealtime is also used as a learning experience. Volunteers and staff are expected to sit with the children and to model healthy eating habits and table manners. Staff also stimulate social interaction, and promote language development and social skills. All children in Head Start/ Early Head Start are served breakfast, lunch, and one snack. These meals must be consumed at the center. No outside meals may be provided at these designated times.
Food items high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar and salt are offered to the children. For parents wanting to help their children’s classroom celebrate special occasions, these occasions must be approved with the Education Center Coordinator, and Nutrition Staff. Food for all special pre-planned events must be store bought and pre-packaged.
The “Color Me Healthy” curriculum and the “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” program is utilized in the classroom. The curriculum and program emphasizes the importance of making healthy food choices and participating in physical activities every day. “Color Me Healthy” and “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” includes classroom activities such as song, games, and imaginary trips all developed especially for preschool age children.