It starts with the food!< Back
Great conversations are had when we get together with family and friends and share a meal. We see this is the same for the children in our care and we that have a role to play in co-creating with our families the foundation for a lifelong passion for nutritious healthy eating.
Our approach at Kinderpark is to see the kitchen as the heart of our centres. Mealtimes are important to us they are a time for us to be together as important as a family bbq on the weekend, sharing stories and connecting. We see our cooks as an integral part of supporting this movement by creating food that we are proud to serve at mealtimes in our centres. Supported by great food our Co-workers have an opportunity to build positive connections, interactions and discussions about healthy eating with our children as we sit together and enjoy our food.
The challenge is how do we create a consistent and nutritious menu and encourage our children to have a passion for healthy food? Yes we know – every families challenge – so we are in this together to find some amazing meals that the children will love! Firstly, we asked our centre communities to suggest ideas for menus. Our families and children had some great suggestions which we took with our ideas to a centre cook’s meeting with Grace Bancroft our consultant nutritionist. Together with our cooks our meeting with Grace gave us the opportunity to select ideas from our community and start to plan our menus. With Grace we have devised recipes and a menu that is nutritious, healthy and supports our children’s wellbeing. Our menus cover not only lunch but health snacks, breakfast and afternoon teas.
Grace works as a Nutritionist for Gracious Food Stories. While studying at Curtin University, Grace worked as an Early Learning Centre cook for two years. This experience coupled with her Bachelor of Science (Nutrition & Food Science) helped us to connect and focus. Together we discussed and explored Graces passion for the connection between eating skills & behavioural/developmental skills and our role in supporting this with great menus and conversations with our children. One of the key questions we had was how to help children explore new flavours and textures. Grace was able to share the experience of being a mum to a 16-month-old, connecting, understanding, and supporting our team with ideas of how to help our children adapt to our new menus. We like to keep it simple and with Grace we have created:
- a four weekly menu adapted to each centre’s community
- recipes for all meals to support our cooks prepare delicious food
- a recommended product list to support our cooks to select the best products for a balanced diet.
We had many requests from our families for build your own meals, a great social way for children to learn about food. So don’t be surprised to see build your own Beef san choy bow on the menu soon. Self-serve and sharing meals are great for social connection and fine motors skills and with old favourites like Super spaghetti bolognaise (spag bol with a twist!) and new soon to be favourites like Baked Asian style fish with soba noodles, carrot, broccoli & cabbage we are sure to all going back for seconds!
Our new menus will launch in our centres over the next few weeks.
By Phil McIlree KinderPark Co-worker