The purpose of Family Style Meals is to provide a standardized and developmentally appropriate procedure for implementing nutrition standards and meal service in the early childhood setting. The Family Style Meal service means serving foods in child appropriate size bowls or dishes on the table and encouraging children to serve themselves or serve themselves with help from an adult. By doing so, caregivers promote healthy eating habits and create a positive meal-time environment.
How does the Program work?
The program helps adults establish a safe environment for children to try new foods and learn appropriate mealtime manners. There are four parts to implement in the program:
Food Preparation: This part includes with the actual preparation of the foods as well as the planning of the meals throughout the week. Discuss menus daily using pictures to familiarize children with the different foods that they will be trying at each meal. During the preparation, allow children to assist in small tasks, such as adding or mixing ingredients in a safe environment. Allowing children to assist in preparation will increase the chances of them trying the food that they prepared.
Set Up: This part involves setting the table. Adults and children can place plates and silverware together as well as prepare appropriate drinks for each meal.
Meal Service: Before the meal service begins, children and adults should wait until all participants are seated and served before eating. During the meal service, children should be taught to be polite while passing foods and keeping voices down at an appropriate level. Children should be encouraged to take what they can eat and should not be forced to have seconds or forced to eat anything they don’t find appealing. It is very important that adults are always present during mealtime. This creates a safe environment for children to learn mealtime manners as well as a safe place for children to explore the various foods that are prepared for them.
Clean Up: Adults and children should clean up after a meal together. Adults should allow children to scrap their own plates and put soiled items in the designated area. Children should also be allowed to clear and wipe tables. Adults should avoid reprimanding or criticizing children for spills. Instead assist children in cleaning up spills and return to the meal.
Mealtime Memo for Child Care
Child and Adult Care Food Program
1535 W. Jefferson, Bin #7
Phoenix, AZ 85007