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