Toddler Meals: 3/18/2016

In this post, I am going to share Genevieve’s daycare breakfast and lunch. We normally give her breakfast at home, but she generally just take a bite or two, if she eats at all. As a result, most days we send her to daycare with breakfast, in addition to the lunch I generally post about.

Breakfast:

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Kashi Cinnamon Harvest cereal (dry) and organic blueberries

Lunch:

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Pineapple, organic kiwi, twice baked potato, pesto grilled chicken, and mushroom/spinach sautee.

Snack:

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Organic cheddar cheese, sliced unsalted almonds, and Spinach/Kale pasta chips

Finally No Crying!

In the past, Genevieve has always cried when we dropped her off for daycare. She would cling to whichever parent drop her off and cry anytime we tried to sit her down, passed her to a teacher, or leave the room.

Last week, Michael said that she had been letting him sit her at the table in her classroom while he put her breakfast in front of her, and then she would eat and, we watch as he walked out the door.

Yesterday was the first day I have dropped her off at daycare since he had told me this it started happening. It’s so refreshing and so much less stressful to leave her knowing she is content and happy. Yay for no crying!

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Breakfast: banana, apple, and Blueberry pumpkin seeds breakfast cookie.

Toddler Meals 9/21/2015

Toddler Meals 9/21/2015

I send Genevieve to daycare each day because I disagree with the Food Program.

She eats lunch and 2 snacks each day at daycare and sometimes she eats a 2nd breakfast too, if she doesn’t eat much before she leaves home.

Today’s lunchbox includes:

● Chicken/veggie/rice stir-fry and boiled turnips
● Cherries and Champagne grapes
● cheddar cheese and pumpkin/flax/chia crackers
● celery and dried cherries (sweetened with juice)
● 2 6oz servings of formula  (Hipp Growing up Milk)

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Packing a lunch for daycare

We have recently been having problems with daycare over Gevevieve’s diet.  I will go into that situation in another blog, but here I wanted to show off her new lunch box and explain what I sent today.
I have been looking for lunch solutions for Genevieve for the last couple of weeks because we are starting to feed her more table food.  The problem I found is that most lunch containers are designed for large portions and dont really work well for toddler meals. I also needed a way to transport her food to daycare and ensure that it stays cold and contained.
Solution:
Sistema Plastic Containers and Rubbermaid LunchBox containers.   I found the Sistema containers at At Home, TJ Maxx, and Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I have purchased the Small Split, and a few other small sizes.  I found the Rubbermaid containers at Kroger (and I saved on them using a Kroger coupon and and Ibotta Coupon). I purchased the LunchBox for Kids and a couple of the Snack containers.
Her new lunch bag is from Pack It and I purchased it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, although I did see some other styles/colors at TJ Maxx after I bought it.  I chose the Freezable Carryall, because I liked that it was long vs tall, so I thought it would work well for more carried sized container.  We have the print “ziggy.”  This bag is super cool because you dont have to use ice or ice packs, because its designed with liquid inside the bag (you freeze the whole bag!).  It is supposed to stay cold for 10 hours!
I know that her bag needed her name on it, but I didnt want to ruin the bag with sharpie and my desire to get her a embroidered lunch bag was out the window because the Pack It lunch bag linings are full of liquid. So I wrote her name on the back of some ribbon and used fabric glue to make a loose band around the strap.
Whats Inside:
We are required to provide food that meets all the crazy requirements of the USDA School Nutrition Program (which is horrible, but I wont go into that here).  Genevieve hardly eats anything, so most of this will probably come back home, but they cant say that I didnt send it!  And this bag holds a TON of stuff!
  • Shredded Smoked Chicken and stir fried carrots
  • Cherries (pitted of course) and a kiwi
  • Puffed Rice
  • Celery Sticks
  • Raisins
  • 1 Plum Organics baby food pouch
  • 1 toddler spoon
  • A stick of cheese
  • Her diaper bag also included three 6oz servings of Hipp formula (toddler and infant mixed 1/2 and 1/2).

Daycare issues with food and my problem with the USDA food programs

The Issue:

Early in the month the Assistant Director of the daycare we were using in Hot Springs, AR (contact me if you want to know where) came up to me when I picked Genevieve up.  She wanted to talk to me about Genevieve’s transfer into the Toddler classroom on August 17th and that when she moved classrooms we would no longer be allowed to provide her meals.  Until this point we brought our own snacks and baby food because I did not like what they served, and this was fine with the daycare.  I told the Assistant Director that I did not want Genevieve eating the salt, sugar, and processed meat that was provided as part of their menu.  I was told that I didnt have a choice, but that I could choose to have her served a vegetarian meal instead of the one with meat.  I thanked her for the option and that would be my preference, but that I didnt want her eating the food and that I would look into the program rules.

The next day when my husband picked her up he called me.  He said that they had sent all of Genevieve’s food home and she had a note in her cubby that we were no longer allowed to bring our own food and that any food brought would be thrown away.  Additionally, he was told that she was fed the school meal that day.

I was FURIOUS!  I was told I had a week to resolve this issue and then they gave her the food the next day!  I was waiting to hear back from the DHS Special Nutrition office (who by the way still hasnt called me back 3 weeks later), so that I could speak to the daycare Director with informed information.  I never had the chance to speak with her!  To make matters even worse, when I called to complain, the Director told me that Michael (my husband) had given permission for her to eat the school meal that morning when he dropped her off.  When I asked him about it, he said that no one even spoke to him when he dropped her off, so how did he give permission?!

  1. I was hardly given any notice about the meal requirement and the Director never took the time to meet with me about it. 
  2. I was lied to about when the change would take place.
  3. The daycare had no nutrition program paperwork on file for Genevieve, nor any documentation about possible allergies.
  4. I was lied to (maybe the Director was too) about my husband giving permission for her to eat their food
  5. The Food Program allows for terribly unhealthy foods!
Daycare Menu:
*Each daycare that participates in the USDA food program, chooses how many of the approved meals they will offer.  In the instance discussed here the required participation is 1 meal and 2 snacks (AM snack, Lunch, and PM snack).

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP):
Basically this is a program that reimburses daycare centers for providing meals to the enrolled children.  The goal of the program is admirable: reduce childcare costs and ensure that children receive healthy food.  This is especially important for children who live in poverty and may not eat well or at all when at home.  
Here is their website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cacfp/child-day-care-centers
My Issues with the CACFP:
  • The same guidelines seem to apply across the board.  I dont understand how it makes sense to apply the same nutrition standards to 1 year olds as they do to school age children.  And actually, the daycare we were at, started feeding the program’s snacks (but not the lunch) at 6 months old!  
  • These foods are highly processed and full of sugar and salt, which the American Academy of Pediatrics, The National Institute of Health, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say should be avoided, especially in infants and toddlers.
  • While the USDA does not require that all daycare attendees participate in the program, it does allow for the State or the local institutions to impose additional restrictions, which can mean food isnt allowed from home.
  • The USDA has no dietary guidelines established for infants and toddlers, so the program that are enforcing is created on a fallacy. 
I understand this program is designed to lessen the food gap caused by poverty, but if I can afford to feed my child whole unprocessed foods, why shouldnt I be allowed to?  It offends me that as a parent I am not allowed to provide for my child as I think is important.  My daughter spends more time in daycare than at home, which is hard enough, but furthermore, poor nutrition is being reinforced at daycare which hinders my ability to teach and promote positive nutrition at home. 
Nutrition for Infants and Toddlers
The USDA currently has no dietary guidelines established for infants, toddlers, or pregnant women.  They are currently developing these guidelines,but the will not be released until 2020.  The My Plate program (a reincarnation of the previous food pyramid) recommendations do not start until age 2. 
More Information on the USDA dietary guidelines for Infants and Toddlers (or lack there of ) http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/birthto24months
Informational Links on Toddler Nutrition from the National Institute of Health
Diet Recommendations from Kidshealth.org (recommended by the NIH)
Sodium Guidelines from NIH
Feeding Patterns for ages 6 months to 2 years by the NIH (also notes that salt and sugar should be avoided)
My Thoughts:
I may not make the best nutritional choices for myself, but I want my daughter to have a healthy foundation to her nutritional outlook and I want her to enjoy healthy foods.  I do not want her addicted to sugar and salt and I know that the earlier and more frequently those are introduced, the more desensitized we get to them. It is appalling to me that the USDA can enforce nutrition guidelines when they themselves admit that they do not have established guidelines for infants and toddlers.  Not to mention the fact that the food programs that they promote allow for the lowest quality food possible.  The sodium and sugar content in these foods are extraordinarily high.  Also, it seems odd to me that the same foods considered appropriate for adults are also considered appropriate for a toddler.  Not to mention the fact, that the rules governing these programs make it hard for me to ensure that my daughter is eating nutritious food. 
Its my job as a parent to make good decisions for my child and these approved meal plans, that blatantly go against research and recommendations by the AAP and the NIH, are far from a good decision. 
My Choices:
To the best of my ability, Genevieve will eat whole unprocessed foods, organic, non- genetically modified and hormone free when possible, with no added sugar or salt.  I will do my best to make sure she develops food habits in which salty and sweet snacks are not the norm.  I know that as she gets older she will be exposed to much more than I can control, but for now, I can do my best to help her develop healthy food preferences and create a solid healthy foundation for her health and dietary future.
Daycare Resolution:

We have since changed daycare centers.  The center we are at now, does also use the USDA food program, but they are willing to work with us regarding Genevieve’s diet and are allowing us to bring our own food until she goes back to the doctor in September.  Until then, we have a pending request at the pediatrition’s office for a doctor’s note that will allow us to continue to provide Genevieve food from home instead of her eating the daycare’s meals.