“I never realized the impact of healthy eating until I participated in the ECE Learning Collaborative,” says Alberto Jones, owner of Jones Family and Day Care in Madison, Florida. Through participating in the program, Ms. Jones modified her daycare menus to eliminate fried foods and to include more fruits and vegetables.
One of the challenges that Ms. Jones faced was that the children she takes care of after school are older and already have firm food likes and dislikes. She introduced new fruits and vegetables to the children by having taste tests and letting the children use their imaginations in naming different foods. She also took the time to present the food in appealing ways, such as colorful fruit kababs and 7-layered tacos.
“Being a good role model was important, too. I’ve been eating healthier myself, and try to show enthusiasm for the different foods when eating with the children. It makes a difference,“ says Ms. Jones. “Once the children try items in my center and like them, they will ask for them at home.”
In addition to serving healthier foods, Ms. Jones has started to serve snacks family-style. Her plan is to eventually serve breakfast and lunch family-style by the fall. This is one of the policy changes she is making at her day care home, in addition to monthly nutrition education for both children and staff, and incorporating healthy celebrations and fundraising. Participation in the ECE Learning Collaborative has also spurred Ms. Jones to get on the Child and Adult Care Food Program to help pay for the healthier foods she is serving.
Information provided by interview with:
Alberto Jones, Owner
Jones Family and Day Care