Creating a Nutrition Friendly Environment
Development of healthy eating habits begins in early childhood and sets the stage for lifelong patterns. Sixty-five percent of young children spend several days in some form of childcare outside their home each week and often consume one-half to two-thirds of their meals during that time. As a childcare provider, you play an essential role in the development of healthy eating habits of children.
A nutrition friendly environment in the early childcare setting is one that will support the development of healthy eating habits and optimal growth in young children. It incorporates the nutritional quality of all foods and beverages served in early childcare, physical and social aspects of the mealtime environment, interactions between children, families, and the childcare provider, and preparing school staff to deliver nutrition messages in an effective way.
This training details ten benchmarks for creating a nutrition friendly environment, the importance of each benchmark, and how to implement practices in your school to meet them.
By the end of this training, successful participants will be able to:
- Detail ten benchmarks for creating a nutrition friendly early childcare environment.
- Discuss how each benchmark supports the development of healthy behaviors.
- Explain how early childcare providers can support growth and development through the foods served in schools.
- List mealtime environment qualities that support both the physical and social needs of young children.
- Discuss the ways in which implementing nutrition education and engaging parents can support a nutrition friendly environment.
- Detail specific barriers to implementation and discuss possible solutions.
Dr. Jessica Barnes received her PhD in nutrition from Texas Woman's University. Her research focused on food preference development and creating materials to help preschoolers become familiar with healthy foods. She has worked with families and communities as a clinical and community Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.