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PART 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Food Items from Outside Program Goal: All foods served in our program, including foods brought from home or pur- chased from stores, meet the program’s standards. If families provide meals for children, teachers confirm they are balanced and healthy meals. If families provide snack items for children, teachers confirm they are nutritious and healthy foods. Our program keeps nutritious food on hand to supplement children’s meals if needed. Foods brought from home or purchased by families for special events or celebrations meet nutrition and health guidelines (program guidelines). If children eat meals from an outside vendor regularly or on occasion (for example, on a field trip), those meals are required to meet nutritious and healthy guidelines. Foods from fast-food restaurants are never allowed in the program for any reason. Did you know? While some foods from fast-food restaurants may be healthy, fast-food restaurant menus are typically packed with unhealthy, calorie-dense foods. Having an overall policy to keep those foods out of your program eliminates the need for you to evaluate each meal brought in from fast-food restaurants. It also minimizes the number of times children are exposed to those restaurants and food choices. Food requiring refrigeration that is brought from home or outside sources is stored properly (that is, in an actual refrigerator in most cases, even if ice packs are included). Food Preparation Food preparation is an important process in a child care program. Being mindful of food safety during food preparation is essential to ensure children’s health. And cooking and food preparation are good opportunities to blend ingredients and enhance flavors. Unfortunately, the nutritional value of many foods is lowered or eliminated during cooking. For example, a cooked apple coated with sugars and fats no longer retains its original nutritional value. Preparing foods should not lower their nutritional value. Instead, it should enhance flavor and help children develop a taste for nutritional foods. 12 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL