• being thoughtful about purchased foods,
• ensuring that preparation and serving practices contribute to the overall appeal and
nutritional value of the meal,
• ensuring food safety,
• providing an environment that supports and encourages breast-feeding,
• eliminating sugary drinks,
• helping children manage portions,
• introducing new foods,
• removing unhealthy food items from the menu, and
• evaluating and changing food-related policies.
These are just some of the numerous ways teachers can make a positive difference that could
influence a child for a lifetime.
Of course, families already have opinions and preferences about nutrition. Early childhood
education professionals should be cautious not to seem as if they are passing judgment on family
choices; instead, they should work together with families to support children’s development. All
teachers should take their jobs as role models seriously and understand that what they do in front
of children and families strongly influences the children. What may seem inconsequential—for
example, wrinkling your nose when broccoli is served—can make a lasting impact. Focusing on
nutrition should be viewed as a responsibility and an opportunity for everyone in the program.
Even adults can benefit from emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating habits. Small changes
can bring about big results for all. As a report by Harvard University’s Center on the Develop-
ing Child emphasizes, “‘Getting things right’ and establishing strong biological systems in early
childhood can help to avoid costly and less effective attempts to ‘fix’ problems as they emerge
later in life” (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and National Forum on Early
Childhood Policy and Programs 2010, 5).
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