Meal & Nutrition Services
Good nutrition plays a critical role in children’s overall health. At Head Start, we know that children who are well nourished and fed a healthy, well-balanced diet are better equipped to thrive in the classroom. We also know that eating preferences and habits learned in early childhood set the trajectory for eating behaviors into adolescence and adulthood. One goal of Jefferson County Head Start is to stop the trend towards childhood obesity by providing healthy food and nutrition education to young children and their families through its Nutrition programs.
As part of their attendance at Head Start, children are provided meals and snacks that:
- Provide a minimum of 1/3 of the child’s Daily Nutritional Needs as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Are high in nutrients and low in fats, sugar, and salt
- Broaden a child’s food experience and take into account children’s cultural and ethnic preferences
- Meet the nutritional and feeding requirements of each child, including those with special dietary needs and children with disabilities
Children establish eating habits as early as age 2! Jefferson County Head Start partners with families to build healthy eating habits early. One way we do this is to serve all meals and snacks family-style. Family-style meals are a great way to introduce healthy foods, model healthy behaviors, and provide opportunities for nutrition education. It is also an opportunity for children to have meaningful conversations with adults and develop social relationships.
Serving Family-Style Meals
- Introduces healthy foods to children and encourages them to try new ones
- Provides opportunities for nutrition education such as teaching serving sizes or talking about healthy foods and food groups
- Allows children to see adults model healthy eating
- Teaches food safety by encouraging hand washing and the use of serving utensils
- Builds independence by allowing children to make decisions and take responsibility
- Develops fine and gross motor skills by asking children to pour, pass, serve, and share food
- Enhances language and social skills when children practice table manners and learn appropriate meal time behavior
- Improves meal time behavior
- Reinforces basic concept skills from the classroom such as naming shapes, colors, flavors, and textures
- Through a partnership with the Culture of Wellness in Preschools program, children have monthly nutrition lessons in their classrooms
- Nutrition education activities and events scheduled throughout the year for children and families
- Nutrition assessments for children as needed
- Parent/family workshops offered throughout the year, including a Family Wellness Workshop and a Cooking with Kids class
- Registered Dietitian available for one-on-one nutrition discussions
To provide the most nutritious and delicious meals for all Head Start children, we are thrilled to announce that since 2017, all our meals are cooked from scratch daily in the kitchen at our Arvada location. Our Dietician and Chef work together to plan menus and prepare food that not only meets each child’s nutritional needs, but also exposes children to a variety different fruits, vegetables, and other foods that may or may not be served at home.
The kitchen is always looking for feedback and suggestions on the food we serve. If you have a family recipe to share or other suggestions for what we can serve, please let us know!
We provide the following supports to facilitate breastfeeding for our families and staff:
- Families and staff are offered space for breastfeeding & expressing milk (note: space is always available; is not a bathroom; is out of view from staff & the public; & has access to an outlet)
- Families are encouraged to visit the program to breastfeed, not only during drop-off/pick-up, but anytime during the day
- Our program has a hospital grade breast pump with extra supplies that may be used by families and staff
- Our program has refrigerator and freezer storage for expressed breast milk
- Families may request breast milk, leftover from a feeding, be returned home
- Families have additional option to send frozen breast milk
- Our program has the ability to make referrals to community partners for support with lactation