Strengthen Your Food Program

Mealtime creates plenty of wonderful opportunities to provide children with education and social-emotional development.
Food Program

The Ideas & Solutions blog is intended to provide a forum for the discussion of child care and early education issues and ideas. We hope to provoke thoughtful discussions within the field and to help those outside the field gain a better understanding of priorities and concerns.

For children enrolled in fulltime care, the majority of their day is spent with you, their childcare provider. This also means they eat most of their meals and snacks with you. Mealtime creates plenty of wonderful opportunities to provide children with education and social-emotional development. Not only are there opportunities for conversation about nutrition and healthy bodies, but you can also be a positive role model when it comes to eating healthy foods. Older children gain independence by being assigned duties, such as setting the table. You can discuss the colors, textures, and flavors of a variety of foods. You also get the chance to introduce new foods in a group setting where children may venture out and try something they have not tasted before. With this wonderful opportunity for development comes great responsibility.

Not only do you want to ensure children are being served balanced and nutritious foods, but you also want to make sure it is being done safely.

CCHC Nurse Consultants have a variety of resources to help you on this journey. 

Go NAPSACC  

There are many ways to strengthen your daycare’s food program by following best practices. Go NAPSACC is an easy-to-use website that allows program directors and/or staff to complete a self-assessment; this identifies ways an individual program can improve its daily practices. Go NAPSACC makes goal setting easy and provides a library of trainings and resources to help achieve any goal you set for yourself. CCHC consultants can offer you free access to Go NAPSACC’s program, in addition to offering you KDHE licensing hours for completion of trainings under any of Go NAPSACC’s seven modules. Some examples of topics for helping improve your food program include Nutrition or Farm to ECE. 

Food allergies 

September 13 is National Celiac Awareness Day. This and other food allergies are something to be mindful of when preparing and serving food. Food allergies are common and reactions range in severity from mild skin reactions to very serious life-threatening reactions (anaphylaxis). Hospitalizations due to food allergy reactions are increasing in children, especially in those who have asthma or multiple food allergies. Children with known food allergies should have an emergency action plan on file in case they are exposed to their allergen while in your care. CCHC Nurse Consultants can help you establish prevention measures in your daycare to help avoid exposure to allergens, including providing you with example ideas for allergen-safe meal plans. We can also help you maintain proper documentation of food allergies and emergency action plans and help you feel comfortable recognizing and responding to an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.  

CACFP & Breastfeeding 

CACFP, or the Child and Adult Care Food Program, is a federal program that reimburses providers for serving nutritious foods. Its goal is to promote healthy living for children and adults in the United States. Participating in CACFP includes health and financial benefits but also the benefit of additional resources such as menus, appropriate substitutions, and standardized paperwork for addressing food allergies. Something not often thought of when considering mealtimes is whether your facility supports breastfeeding. Breastmilk is reimbursable under the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Designated Childcare Center is something your program can do to stand out to prospective parents who wish to continue breastfeeding. 

While serving food may seem like a simple task, the impact your daycare’s food program can have is significant. You play a key role in teaching children and shaping their social-emotional growth. There are many ways you can strengthen your food program to set your daycare center apart from others. For assistance with utilizing Go NAPSACC to obtain state licensing hours, reviewing food allergy documentation, becoming a Breastfeeding Designated Childcare Center, or for any other related needs you can contact Child Care Health Consultants at (785) 823-3343 and request to speak with the Nurse Consultant in your area. You can also reach out through our website at www.ks.childcareaware.org, or by emailing cchc@ks.childcareaware.org

  • Erica Goldsby
    Child Care Nurse Consultant, Child Care Aware of Kansas

    Erica has a Bachelors in Science of Nursing MWSU and a Masters of Public Health KSU. She has five years experience working at Fort Riley engaged with Child and Youth Services programs as a Public Health Nurse and Child and Youth Services Nurse. She has worked with children ages 6 weeks-18 years with a variety of special needs. She is an American Heart Association HeartSaver Instructor. Taught daycare providers at Fort Riley about Medication Administration, Communicable Diseases, Bloodborne Pathogens, and Diabetes.

  • Jessica Gable
    Child Care Nurse Consultant, Child Care Aware of Kansas

    Jessica joined the CCHC team in May 2022 as a Nurse Consultant, working from her home town of Derby, KS. Before joining Child Care Aware of Kansas, Jessica worked as a pediatric home health nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from University of Nebraska Medical Center Lincoln. In her free time, Jessica enjoys being creative with self-portrait photography and trying out new recipes!