Our School Nursery and Preschool in Glenwood Springs, Colorado occasionally used family style dining, but is now doing it daily, since staff attended the Cooking Matters for Child Care Professional (CMCCP) training. The director has seen kids develop empathy by ensuring other kids get enough to eat, fine motor skills when using tongs, and conversational skills during mealtime. During CMCCP, participants discuss the pros and cons of and share tips for successful implementation of family-style dining, which can lead to a food waste decrease of 7% and an intake increase of 43 calories . Before CMCCP, Our School staff struggled to get kids to try new foods. Now, children are encouraged to serve themselves and decide what and how much they eat. Before mealtime starts, children talk about how they helped prepare the meal, increasing their food skills confidence.
The school’s food budget is more sustainable and there is less food waste because kids are asked what they want to eat and are more likely to eat the foods they requested. Our School continues to try new ways to get more fruits and vegetables into the tummies of picky eaters. Staff use taste tests of fresh, frozen and canned produce and shred veggies into dishes such as turkey tacos.
From May through December 2019, CMCCP training participants reported:
- 15% increase in confidence to prepare healthy meals
- 18% increase in how often kids are helping to prepare and serve meals
- 21% increase in how often they let kids choose from a variety of healthy foods.
"When you eat family style, you eliminate the ‘grass is always greener effect.’ The kiddos and teachers are all eating the same thing, encouraging each other. Some kids are more apt to join in and try the foods when everyone is engaging in the serving process.”
-Our School Nursery and Preschool Director
All Cooking Matters’ programs provide practical education for individuals to purchase and prepare foods that meet their nutrition, budget, and personal needs. Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals (CMCCP) trainings address the specific needs of child care providers who serve young children from limited-income families. Child care providers can earn up to eight continuing education hours during these full day trainings that provide hands-on practice in the kitchen, interactive discussions on ways to make healthy choices about food served to kids, and education on practices to promote healthy eating behaviors in young kids.
This article was submitted by Share our Strength's Cooking Matters, a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency. For more information, contact Christina Miller.