The University Child Development Center (UCDC) at Southeast Missouri State University’s Sikeston Regional Campus was honored last week with the Eat Smart designation.
The UCDC was recognized for adopting new guidelines for meals and snacks to promote healthier eating habits and improve the nutrition of children at the facility.
The Missouri Eat Smart Guidelines, developed by the state health department, are designed to boost the nutrition of children ages 2-12 and help them maintain a healthy weight. The guidelines include recommendations for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
“Meeting the criteria for the Eat Smart Missouri Child Care means we put the children first when considering the meals and snacks we serve,” said Barb Meraz, UCDC site director. “By fostering healthy eating habits at an early age we can impact a life time of healthy nutrition decisions.”
Child care facilities play an important role in providing young people with the nutrition they need for good health and help them learn life-long healthy habits. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Community Food & Nutrition Assistance (CFNA) is pleased the University Child Development Center is working to improve the health of the children it serves.
The Eat Smart program is voluntary and open to child care facilities throughout Missouri that participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Eat Smart recommendations include more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, fewer processed foods, lower-fat milk, and fewer sweet snacks and sweet breakfast foods.
The program is offered at three levels: minimum, which are minimum CACFP and state licensing requirements, intermediate and advanced. Each level requires increasingly higher nutrition standards, and only centers that meet the intermediate or advanced levels are recognized.
The UCDC has achieved the intermediate level.
In addition to menu recommendations, the Eat Smart Guidelines address factors that impact the mealtime environment at child care centers. Those recommendations include lessons about healthy eating habits, adult caregivers modeling healthy behaviors, family style meals, no television during mealtime and healthier classroom parties.
To qualify for the Eat Smart designation, child care centers must apply to participate and submit their menus, nutrition-related policies, food labels and other supporting documents to the state health department.
More information about the Eat Smart Guidelines can be found at: http://health.mo.gov/eatsmartguidelines.