One out of every five Pennsylvania children does not have nutritious, safe food to eat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tracks this information. You may not know unless you ask parents about it.  Children without a stable supply of food may develop serious health problems. They may have poor growth and development. They may develop behavior difficulties. They may have frequent illnesses and hospitalizations. Some have iron deficiency anemia. 

View free, online demonstrations of step-by-step, easy ways to prepare foods for children's meals and snacks. Culinary Institute chefs show the proper techniques in 16 print and 51 brief video lessons. The foods are from the United States Department of Agriculture's collection of recipes for schools. The National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi hosts the website with this excellent professional development resource.

In addition to the videos and print lessons, the website offers six online courses that allow users to earn continuing education credits. The print and video lessons, online courses and USDA recipes are at http://nfsmi.org/Templates/TemplateDefault.aspx?qs=cElEPTIxNg.

Food-borne illness is very common. The risk of this type of illness increases in warm weather. Sending food from home and eating out-of-doors may allow perishable food to reach temperatures that foster bacterial growth. A 2011 study reported in the journal, Pediatrics measured temperatures of lunches that families packed and sent with their preschool children. The researchers found only 1.6% of lunches with perishable items were at safe temperature. The study was done in nine Texas child care centers and measured temperatures in the packed lunches of more than 700 preschoolers. Even when sent with ice packs, most of the lunches were at unsafe temperatures over an hour before the food was ready to be served. The message is clear: Early educators and families must adopt practices that ensure food is at a safe temperature before feeding it to children. 

Question: What determines whether a food is a fruit or a vegetable?  

Answer: Fruits are the part of a plant that has seeds. Vegetables are the edible portion of a plant such as roots (carrots), leaves (lettuce), stems (celery) or flowers (broccoli). They are usually from a plant with a soft (not woody) stem.

A study in the August 2018 issue of Pediatrics, "The Nutritional Quality of Gluten-Free Products for Children," examined the nutritional content of gluten-free products marketed specifically to children. The research showed that products labeled gluten-free are not nutritionally better compared to "regular" children's foods (those without a gluten free claim). In addition, many of the gluten-free foods for children had less protein, high sugar levels, and were of poor nutritional quality due to high levels of sugar, sodium, and/or fat.

Carefully look at product labels when making purchases.  Labeling foods "Gluten-Free" isn't required information. It is a voluntary claim that can be used at the manufacturer’s discretion. This claim should not appear in the ingredient statement on the Nutrition Facts label and can be included on the front of the package. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "Gluten-Free" Rule allows manufacturers to label a food “gluten-free” if the food does not contain an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, or barley or mixture of these grains.  To read the original articles and find tips for choosing foods, go to Healthy Children: Are Gluten-Free Products for Children a Healthier Option? at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Are-Gluten-Free-Products-for-Children-a-Healthier-Option.aspx and Healthy Children: Gluten-Free Food Labeling at - https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Gluten-Free-Food-Labeling.aspx                                                                                                 9/2018 

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC) project at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is now “Go NAP SACC.” Go NAP SACC features an interactive website. Look there for resources for children from birth – 5 years, a focus on breastfeeding and infant feeding, screen time, and outdoor play. Go NAP SACC can be adapted for different child care settings, including family child care homes. The Go NAP SACC website, found at www.gonapsacc.org, gives technical assistance professionals self-assessments and tools. You can follow Go NAP SACC on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GoNAPSACC) and Twitter. Reviewed and reaffirmed 3/2018.

Children need substantial amounts of moderate to vigorous physical activity and good foods in the right amounts to have a healthy weight. Nationally, 20% of children are overweight or obese by age 6. This article lists some ways to introduce healthful habits to children and to families and prevent obesity. This article describes Keystone Kids Go! Let's Move! Child Care, I am moving, I am learning, NAP SACC, and some examples of how these resources can be integrated into the curriculum. 

Brochure that describes the role of a sanitarian or food safety consultant for early education and child care programs. Reviewed and reaffirmed 11/2012

This workshop enables the user to learn how to assess health and safety practices in programs for infants and toddlers in conjunction with use of the ITERS assessment tool. Discuss feeding, diapering, sleeping, fostering early brain development, managing illness and more. Use the assessment to make improvements in the program. 

The PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics published the 5th edition of Model Child Care Health Policies in October 2013. Significantly revised and updated, the new edition is a practical tool for adoption and implementation of best practices for health and safety in group care settings for young children. This edition replaces the previously published version and updates of individual policies that were posted on the ECELS website. ECELS encourages early education and child care professionals to adapt the model policies as site-specific documents that fit their programs. Two formats are available: one replicates the hard copy publication. The other format, posted 12-12-2014, has form fields that allow users to insert their site-specific details directly into the PDF document.