November 2023 Newsletter – Connecting with Foods from Around the World: Integrating New Recipes and Practices

Integrating New Recipes and Practices

Integrating the ideas shared in this newsletter requires a team approach from every level of the organization.  Administrators will need to plan and budget accordingly. Food service managers may need to learn new ways of preparing ingredients. Teaching staff will support implementation by engaging directly with children and families. Below are a few things to consider as you expand this area of your program.

  1. Administrators can dedicate a portion of staff meetings to discussions related to cooking with children and building cultural responsiveness. Teachers should be encouraged to reflect on their relationship with food, how open they are to try unfamiliar foods, and ways to encourage children to try new foods.
  2. Gather feedback from families. Programs can learn from families during the enrollment process, at family events or conferences, through surveys, and via informal conversations. Ask families to provide feedback on the program menus and how well they reflect the foods served at home. Make a concerted effort to integrate family suggestions into menu planning as often as possible.
  3. Plan or seek out professional development opportunities that will help staff understand and adopt new practices related to cooking with children, cultural responsiveness, and reflecting the unique culture of children and families in their daily practices.
  4. Administrators and food service managers may need to research viable sources of food items that are not readily available through current food vendors. If you are having trouble, ask families where they purchase their favorite ingredients.
  5. Establish mealtime routines that incorporate family-style dining. This practice encourages children and teachers to sit together, pass food around the table, serve themselves, and engage in meaningful conversations. It is during this time, that teachers can talk with children about the foods being served and encourage children to try a variety of foods.
  6. If food is prepared by an offsite vendor, ask for a meeting to discuss broadening the menu to reflect a more diverse population. If your program does not provide meals or snacks to children, there may still be ways to integrate cooking into the curriculum. Collaborate to brainstorm different ways to deepen cultural understanding and responsiveness that don’t include food, but do explore other areas of cultural diversity.

 

For the main article Connecting with Foods from Around the World, CLICK HERE

For the article Exploring a Variety of Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Cooking with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Value of Honoring Diversity, CLICK HERE

November 2023 Newsletter – Connecting with Foods from Around the World: The Value of Honoring Diversity

The Value of Honoring Diversity

Each of us is raised within a cultural environment that includes a range of visible and invisible features and influences.  Visible influences include things like the clothing we wear, the music we listen to, the food we eat, and the language we speak.  Less visible elements of a culture include things like values, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions.  It can be helpful to understand culture when it is represented as an iceberg, with the visible influences showing above the waterline and the less visible influences falling below the waterline.

Being culturally responsive means that educators:

  • Understand that everyone has different cultural variables, both visible and invisible.
  • Value these differences and see them as an asset.
  • Seek to understand how cultural elements influence their work.
  • Learn about different cultures at both the visible and invisible levels.
  • Respond to individuals in a manner that honors these cultural variables.

Exploring foods from different cultures is a great example of a practical way to bring cultural awareness and responsiveness into your program environment.  The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) has created a field guide that schools can use to evaluate their level of cultural responsiveness to meet the needs of students, families, and staff. The resource encourages schools/programs to reflect on everything from team makeup and professional development to discipline policies and teaching expectations.

In the section related to Classroom Procedures, the field guide states:

Classroom teachers ensure that all students in the class can see their lives, histories, cultures, and home languages incorporated into the classroom environment, curricula, and instructional practices on a daily basis.

One way to do this is to incorporate meals and snacks that reflect the different cultures represented in your enrolled population.  This is an example of exploring one of the visible aspects of a culture.  Programs can dig deeper into the less visible aspects of culture by asking families to share stories and traditions that accompany the recipes.  Reading a variety of books from different cultures is another way to learn about the values and lessons that are often tied to preparing and sharing food.

Here is another resource from the USDA that describes ways to represent different cultures in your program’s meals and snacks.

 

For the main article Connecting with Foods from Around the World, CLICK HERE

For the article Exploring a Variety of Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Cooking with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Integrating New Recipes and Practices, CLICK HERE

November 2023 Newsletter – Connecting with Foods from Around the World: Cooking with Children

Cooking with Children

One of the most effective ways to get children to explore new foods is to include them in the preparation of the food. There is something about the ownership and pride that come along with preparing recipes that make children excited to try a new dish.  In early learning environments, these opportunities may be limited due to developmental constraints, but opportunities exist, nonetheless.

Younger children can stir and mix ingredients while older children may be ready to chop ingredients and use electronic kitchen equipment.  You probably have an idea of what the children in your care are capable of when it comes to preparing recipes.  We encourage you to consider that the children may be ready and capable of even more than you expect.

There are a number of resources that you can turn to as you expand cooking opportunities in your program.  Cooking with Kids, Inc. (cookingwithkids.org) is a nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico that strives to provide fun and positive experiences with healthy foods. They highlight the academic benefits of cooking with children, including the many math and science concepts that are reinforced through culinary experiences.  Their website includes a list of recipes representing cultures from around the world.  They also provide videos in English and Spanish that provide tips for cooking with children.

Another resource that you might find helpful comes from Teach Nutrition by the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s Registered Dietitians. On their website, you can download a kid-friendly resource that illustrates:

  • Measuring techniques
  • Cutting techniques
  • Mixing techniques
  • General preparation techniques such as how to crack an egg and washing fruits and vegetables

The Food Network also provides simple recipes and food preparation ideas that can be engaging for younger children. One example is the activity of decorating mini pancakes using sliced bananas, strawberries, apples, etc.  This is a good example of a way to introduce a new fruit to children, by including the new fruit along with the fruits children are used to eating.

 

For the main article Connecting with Foods from Around the World, CLICK HERE

For the article Exploring a Variety of Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article The Value of Honoring Diversity, CLICK HERE

For the article Integrating New Recipes and Practices, CLICK HERE

November 2023 Newsletter – Connecting with Foods from Around the World: Exploring a Variety of Foods

Exploring a Variety of Foods

For decades, nutritionists from around the globe have recommended eating a wide variety of foods to ensure a diet that provides the necessary nutrients for healthy living.  In early learning programs, expanding the menu to include foods from different cultures is one way to enhance the variety of foods presented to children.

It may be challenging to identify foods that children will enjoy, especially if you have a group of picky eaters.  To address this, the Bureau of Child Care Food Programs, Florida Department of Health recommends:

  • Introducing one new food at a time.
  • Incorporating new foods into familiar favorites.
  • Allowing children to take part in food preparation – including growing fruits and vegetables.
  • Modeling a positive attitude about trying new foods.
  • Encouraging children and allowing them to try new foods at their own pace.

When enrolling new children into the program, ask about the child’s favorite foods. Keep a list of these favorites and periodically evaluate the program menu to ensure children are seeing familiar foods that they enjoy.  Explore the possibility of integrating some of these new foods into your menu with your food service manager.

Ultimately, the program menu should reflect the cultures of the children in your care. Even programs serving children from a seemingly homogeneous culture can uncover variety in the foods and traditional recipes when they partner with families in a meaningful manner.

For recipe ideas, you can also check out this resource from PBS that allows you to search for recipes by course, occasion, and cuisine.  They even have a large selection of ideas for cooking with children.

For programs that do not provide food to children, a bit of creativity and family involvement may be necessary to vary the foods to which children have access. Programs can encourage families to provide foods from their culture with a short description of the recipe and its cultural/familial relevance.

As always, communicate with families about any changes to your menu and to avoid exposure to food allergens.

 

For the main article Connecting with Foods from Around the World, CLICK HERE

For the article Cooking with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Value of Honoring Diversity, CLICK HERE

For the article Integrating New Recipes and Practices, CLICK HERE

November 2023 Newsletter – Connecting with Foods from Around the World

Connecting with Foods from Around the World

Heading into the final weeks of 2023(!), many of us will be gathering with friends and families to celebrate a variety of holiday traditions.  One common theme in most of these celebrations is food!  Traditional meals and sweets are baked into celebrations from around the world, pun intended!  Because child care programs reflect the broader community, it is safe to say that the children enrolled in your program will also be celebrating and enjoying these culinary traditions.

In this month’s newsletter, we will share ideas for cooking with children and exploring foods from different cultures, not just during the winter holiday season, but year-round.  This is a great way to build staff and family engagement as you collect, share, and maybe even try a few favorite family recipes.

 

For the article Exploring a Variety of Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Cooking with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Value of Honoring Diversity, CLICK HERE

For the article Integrating New Recipes and Practices, CLICK HERE