174338 What and how are we feeding our kids? The Connecticut childcare nutrition landscape

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 9:15 AM

Kathryn E. Henderson, PhD , Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Erica L. Kenney, AB , Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD , Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Background: Child care settings provide a unique opportunity to influence children's eating and health. Eighty-two percent of preschool aged children receive some care outside of the home and 41% of them are in child care for over 35 hours per week. Consequently, many children consume over half of their Recommended Dietary Allowances in child care settings.

Design: In 2008 a survey was sent to 258 Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)-participating preschools across the state of Connecticut; in-home facilities were excluded, as were facilities serving < 13 children. The survey assessed the nutrition and feeding environment, and copies of all center food and nutrition policies were also requested. A stratified random sub-sample of 40 centers, over-sampling in low-resource communities, participated in interview and site and meal observational data collection.

Results: Data collected demonstrate how sites are using the CACFP program, and to what degree menus are in line with current dietary guidelines. Data presented will illustrate the range of food choices a center may offer while in compliance with the CACFP (for example, juice versus whole fruit, whole grain versus non-whole grain). Feeding styles of caregivers were surveyed and closely observed, for example, encouragement to try new foods, using food as a reward, “clean-plate club” approaches to feeding. We also identified, and had centers self-identify, barriers to making positive changes in nutrition and feeding. Interview and observational data are used to corroborate and validate the survey data.

Discussion: Based on our findings, we offer policy recommendations in the following areas: (1) Changes to CACFP requirements, and other accrediting bodies such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), that both improve the nutritional quality of food offered in preschools and work to stem the tide of childhood obesity; (2) The adoption of guidelines that offer instruction in how (as opposed to merely what) to feed children; and (3) The mandating of written policies on nutrition and feeding for all childcare settings.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1.Describe the existing nutrition and feeding environment in CT preschools 2.Identify key barriers to improving the nutrition and feeding environment 3. Describe policy recommendations to improve the preschool nutrition and feeding environment

Keywords: Child Care, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered