Healthy food isn’t just about what’s actually on the plate, it’s also about upbringing, making children really interested in healthy eating. It’s one reason we eat and drink together at the table creating a social occasion. KinderRijk reviewed its nutrition policy in collaboration with parents and health scientists of VU University. The policy is based on the guidelines set by the Netherlands Nutrition Centre with the underlying principle of using minimal salt, fats and sugar. We are currently in the process of implementing the nutrition policy in the groups at the various centres.
The emphasis of the new nutrition policy is on variety with more fruit and vegetables. Finding nice, healthy food with the younger children and particularly at the after-school care centres can be challenging. Knowledge and experimentation play a role, as does, most importantly, the children’s age. As children are active, they do need some sugars and fats. The tables are set with, for instance, wholemeal bread, different cheeses, apple syrup, meat and peanut butter. In addition, there’s yogurt, muesli, hummus and fish. And there’s something new to try each day. A number of childcare centres occasionally serve a hot meal, and we’ve started serving a hot, organic lunch every day at two of our centres.
Drinking water is ultimately the best choice. Children need to learn what they should drink if they are thirsty, and that if they need energy that they should get this from their food, not their drink. So tea and milk products are also on the table.
For lunch, we now also offer raw vegetables such as cucumber, peppers and carrots. In the afternoon, the snack includes a cracker and fruit and yogurt.
Specific nutrition requested by parents
KinderRijk is willing to meet parents’ wishes regarding nutrition based on religious beliefs or specific nutrition requirements. However, these wishes must fit within the group process and actions required by our pedagogical staff must be feasible. KinderRijk expects parents to buy special foods themselves. These items will not be reimbursed by KinderRijk. Parents are responsible for making arrangements with the pedagogical staff.
When it comes to omitting certain foods (e.g. pork meat), we will discuss with parents how to talk to their child or the group, and how to deal with possible questions, curiosity or jealousy. Only in case of serious allergies with severe risks (e.g. peanuts), it may be decided not to offer a product at all in the concerning group. The location manager is ultimately responsible for decisions on special nutrition agreements.