Teachers required to eat meals with children?

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Master Pre-K, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Doing research for my class and I was wondering if anyone had specific documentation on Head Start programs and the policy for teachers eating with children?

    From my experience, teachers were expected to model family style meals, by serving themselves a portion of each food on their plates. You were not required to eat any or all of it, as long as you had some of everything on your plate. Some programs would substitute foods for teachers with special diets, just like the kids, and would require a dr. note for files and posted in the class.

    Understanding the nutrition program is to help supplement children who are at risk, it makes sense to have breakfast lunch and snack, and have meals served family style for the children and staff to encourage healthy eating.

    But realistically, that would mean teachers are eating seven times a day! (breakfast at home, breakfast at school, lunch with am kids, your lunch, another lunch with pm kids, snack, and your dinner!) Certainly the USDA would not encourage those standards! Can an employer legally require you to eat as part of the job requirements?

    Anyone have any policies written on this?
     
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  3. Teacher2Be123

    Teacher2Be123 Companion

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    I know in my daycare we are expected to model lunch. Not am or pm snack. However there are 3 of us in my room, and I have a diet that I have to go by so sometimes I can't eat what is in the room. At least one of us is eating what the kids eat, sometimes all 3 depending on what it is. But there are some things on our menu that the teachers won't even eat, so I don't know how we can be expected to model eating something we don't like.
     
  4. tm91784

    tm91784 Comrade

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    At my current school, the only meal that the children have is snack, so I do sit and eat with the children, but its not a policy. I did field experiences in head start before and teachers were required to eat with children. However, it was an all day program, so they only ate breakfast, lunch, and snack. I think its a good idea to eat with the children because many families don't often eat family style at home. Even if I had to eat 7 times a day, I might just take very tiny portions each time just to model that I was "trying" the food. The teachers were not really required to eat much, but they were expected to sit down and take a few bites of the meal.
     
  5. Marleeismydog

    Marleeismydog Rookie

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    I agree well said! We do sit and eat lunch with the kids, besides it helping to monitor the kids, they enjoy being able to "sit next ot the teacher"
     
  6. Patch351

    Patch351 Rookie

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    I don't work at a head start but the program I am in seems to do what they do. We are suppose to serve ourselves a portion of each thing at breakfast, lunch, and snack. We don't always follow the "rules" so to say and do that. It was never mentioned that we actually have to eat the food, but I'm assuming they want you to.
     
  7. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    will they substitute a food item for you, just as they would for a child? would they accept a dr. note?
     
  8. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    but what if you have allergies, like say you are allergic to tomatoes... You know how many dishes have tomato-based sauce?

    I had a kid who couldn't even sit at the table with us when we served strawberries! She had to sit at another table, and the teacher who sat with her could not put strawberries in her bowl either.

    I understand the why, and the how...I just don't think it is practical for an adult to eat that much all day long. The children need the food, the teachers don't. It doesn't seem to make sense to have three lunches! When I was pregnant, my dr said eat 6 small meals, first three months... I could not imagine having to eat 7 meals every day. You should have something to eat before leaving the house, and certainly something in the evening as well. Even if you skipped bringing lunch, that doesn't seem fair. Don't you have a right to eat your own food?
     
  9. Teacher2Be123

    Teacher2Be123 Companion

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    my problem is i can't eat alot of carbs and sugar..that type of thing. i think if i was full time i would pursue it more, but i'm only part time and not sure if i'm staying there. i sometimes don't follow what my diet should be and cheat (like pasta day...oh goodness so good), but when we have like pizza (which is i guess supposedly whole wheat crust and stuff) i just don't bother. It's not a huge problem for me. There are some kids that get substitutions but it's not a huge substitution. Example, we have 2 sisters (one in my room) who are vegetarians. When we have pasta, they get sauce without meat, they drink soy milk, their pizza doesn't have pepperoni on it, sandwiches don't have meat on it just cheese. The other girl in my class that gets substitutions is because she is deathly allergic to seafood, so when we have fish sticks she gets chicken nuggets. The parents have to pay for the food for substitutions, it isn't provided by the center. Another reason that I don't bother. I would rather just not eat with the kids that day and go buy something on my lunch break, instead of bringing in new food to eat with the kids lunch and then find something for my lunch would just get to costly.
     
  10. Marleeismydog

    Marleeismydog Rookie

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    Our cook will make special dishes for the kids and the staff if needed, no Dr. Note needed. It is usually similar to the rest of the class but omitting the offending foods.

    I would say take small portions of each meal to demonstrate how to be healthy for the kids. I don't usually eat "my lunch" if I eat with the kids. We have good food and fills me up. Most days however, I have been given my break at lunch time recently. I actually miss not eating the school lunch with the kids.
     
  11. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    onions, green peppers, and tomato sauce... oh my

    I am gagging here... I can't eat that stuff!

    couldn't even imagine putting things I can't pronounce or inhale in on my plate!

    I tell you, if I did that..it would look like some ritzy French restuarant...with a thimble size dab of everything...

    why can't I just eat the fruit and be done with it???

    I worked at one place where we did home visits, and each mother made this huge spread of ethnic dishes. At every home! They told me it was considered bad if the visitor did not eat, and the husband would be upset! :(

    So I started taking water and fruit, and nursing it until the visit was over!

    "You must take some home!..Take to your other teachers." They would insist!

    And have it smell up my car?! I don't want it, and don't want to even take it back to the school.

    This is going to be some paper...

    Thinking that if they feel so strongly about this... maybe it is time to switch careers!
     
  12. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    I limit my dairy (dr's advice, because of the hormones). So that's nice the mornings I'm in Head Start, because otherwise I'd be drinking 2 cartons of milk in the 3 hours I'm there!! Eek, I don't need those calories.

    But it's hard, because the teachers always forget and give me milk, and the kids ask questions, and teachers are nosy and want to know exactly how does milk make me sick? Umm...none of your business!

    I take a little bit of everything, and try not to eat it all, because it's usually junk that I'd never eat otherwise. (read- loaded with fat and high fructose corn syrup and calories). Then some kid will yell out, "Miss Danny isn't eating all her food!" and I get embarassed and take more bites ;)

    The worst is when they have something that I WILL NOT EAT. I'm a grown up, I know what I can't stand, makes me sick, whatever. I may not have a doctors note, but that doesn't mean it won't make me throw up. So I just put it on my plate, try not to smell it, and take bites of air with my fork ;)

    On the plus side, I'd never eaten pears until this year at head start! I like them, and never knew it! We were eating fruit, and I said "Oh, this is good, what is it?" and the teacher looked at me like I was crazy...
     
  13. Teacher2Be123

    Teacher2Be123 Companion

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    I did that a couple weeks ago with mandarin oranges...oooo now I want some!
     
  14. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    thanks Danny for keeping it real! that's all I wanted to hear! :2up:

    Many adults and children people don't recognize fresh fruit or vegetables, if it is not served at home. I grew up eating Del Monte Fruit Cocktail, and I thought all cherries were marschino - like in a drink! :p I never ate raw brocoli until I had my Lamaze class.

    the last time I saw a carton of milk, I was pregnant! Immediately after I gave birth, I became lactose intollerant. Been that way ever since.

    We are people first, teachers second! We should have a right to our own dietary needs!

    I think also, back in the 60's when I had rubber pants, not pampers (yeah..quite a visual for you :rolleyes:), most of the Head Start staff were brought in from the community, and parent volunteers were encouraged to become aides and then moved up to teachers. It was understood that they too were at risk, so having healthy meals was an added benefit for them.

    Fortunately, most of us do earn more than minimum wage, and don't need the extra meals they provide.

    Think I have my answers for my paper! Like so many things, Head Start has remained trapped in history, even though the positives outweigh the negatives..

    Common sense always stands out!
     
  15. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    wendy's serves them with their kid's meals!

    and McDonald's has those apple slices in a bag.

    I prefer the fruit cups in natural juices, versus heavy syrup. It is cheaper to buy store brands of apricots, peaches, and pears, and divvy them up into little tupperware dishes.

    and that's what I put in my lunch bag.

    school serves canned fruit in heavy syrup, or worse..lower grade varieties, that tend to be rather fleshy, and tough! :unsure:
     
  16. Ms Petunia

    Ms Petunia Rookie

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    I have worked in Head Start and yes I sat down to eat all those meals. Did I clean my plate? Absolutely not! I picked a little at each food, I always ate my vegetables though. The students did not finish everything on their plate either. Eating with the children is a time of socialization and education. I talked about the food being served and about the nutritional importance of each. Head Start requires weekly nutrition lessons be taught. Believe it or not eating with the students is also a time to teach the children how to eat with utensils, how to sit in a chair correctly and to have table manners. This is also a time to chit-chat with each other. Many children that attend Head Start do not have the priviledge of eating as a family, at a table, sitting on a chair.
     
  17. MimiBee

    MimiBee Companion

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    In our HS center, the teachers are required to eat breakfast and lunch. In our full day/full year classrooms, they serve snacks but teachers do not have to participate.

    In response to an earlier comment about eating 7 meals a day,
    isn't it recommended that we eat 5-6 small meals a day instead of three big ones anyway? (Not that I'd want to eat even 7 small meals a day...ugh.) To avoid that, I don't eat breakfast at home and eat it in class with the children. We do not get a lunch hour so it's either eat lunch here with the kids, or don't eat.
     
  18. JenPooh

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    Personally, it sounds like a total waste of food to me. Those food portions could get better used elsewhere. Talk about a total waste of tax dollars!

    I never required my staff (I did not run a Head Start though) to eat with the children, but they were required to sit with the children and encourage them to eat their food and keep a family style atmosphere. Usually the staff ate their lunches when the kids were sleeping. I would never require an adult to take/eat something they do not like, and I also think making them take it knowing they wont eat it is a big waste of food and $$$. JMO.
     
  19. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    I'd think if you were required to eat with the kids, you'd not eat your own breakfast at home, nor would you bring a lunch. I worked in a program where we were required to eat lunch with the kids, but not snack (and I have to note that the kids weren't REQUIRED to eat snack, either, but we were required to have it availalbe for those who wanted it). There is really no need for adults to eat that much food, as you said, but it is also a choice on your part if you choose to eat your own meals in addition to the "work" meals.

    I think that it's good policy to take some of everything and to nibble on some of everything (unless there is an allergy), but I'm pretty sure no one in charge is going to force you to EAT with the kids. If you're serving applesauce, fish sticks, green beans and mashed potatotes, as long as you eat some of the applesauce and beans (even if just one!), you can pretty much just play with the rest and no kid would notice.
    Kim
     
  20. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    I do skip eating breakfast at home on the mornings I'm in Head Start.

    But even though it's calorie-wise enough, I'm still hungry when I get home at noon. (after eating twice with the kids).

    So I'd think that if I actually worked there, the issue for me would be- finding things to eat for my lunch that filled me up, but were low calorie enough to make up for the junk I ate with the kids.

    So, in a normal day, I'd eat a protein bar for breakfast, and some homemade veggie soup and a lean cuisine for lunch- and I would be full from that.- about 500 calories

    But what do you do when breakfast is cereal, juice, fruit in syrup, and a sticky bun; and snack is cheese, broccoli, more juice, and ranch dressing? This is way more calories, but not nearly as much protein- and not as filling.

    So even though I try and cut back what I eat on my own those days (and try not to eat much with the kids, and push my food around my plate), I'm still consuming way more calories than I normally would- and junky ones that I wouldn't usually eat (like high fructose corn syrup)
     
  21. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I can't understand why it would make someone eat more food. I have breakfast duty and eat with the kids. I just don't eat at home.
     
  22. MimiBee

    MimiBee Companion

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    Who serves that all at once!? YIKES! Our breakfasts usually consist of one main item, cereal/toast/bagel/oatmeal (rarely, rarely do we have pancakes or muffins...VERY rarely,) and we have milk and juicy (Juicy Juice.) On some occasions, we will have fresh orange wedges instead of juice.
     
  23. JenPooh

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    Hearing all this pretty much makes my point about why I never "made" staff eat the food, and would never work anywhere that did. Juice does not have the same nutritional value as whole fruit, no matter what the FDA says. It lacks the fiber and other vitamins and contains high amounts of high fructose syrup which tends to make kids hyper and is not good for you. I never allowed juice to be substituted for fruit or veggies. Never, it's not the same. Meats are generally processed (hotdogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets). Yuck. Yes, I eat some processed food at home, but I don't want it that often. I understand centers need to use quick recipes, but even when it contains the "proper" nutritional components put out by the DPI, it doesnt' mean it's the best nutritional value. Even veggies, when cooked more than 3 mintues do not share the same nutritional value as fresh or steamed and most veggies are cooked in centers.

    I try to eat as healthy as I can, and if I were to eat a center's food, my value for healthy eating would be thrown out the window. No thanks. Blah. I have yet to be at a center that eats non-processed fresh meat, whole grains, and fresh fruit and veggies every day. Is it logical? Probably not due to costs, but it doesn't mean I am going to sacrifice my health for it or make others eat it if they don't want to. Ick. I am also a smart value shopper and don't like waste, so I wouldn't want my staff taking something for the sake of taking it just for it to be thrown in the garbage. Honestly, I'd rather have a staff member who is just sitting down at the table conversing with the kids and making their meal a pleasant experience. I think that is more important. Even if you take something and push it around and take bites of air, they know if you are eating it or not.
     
  24. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Jen, I think you are absolutely right...but, here is another point: if the food is so un-healthy that you won't eat it, then why on earth are we serving it to kids, who have no choice in the matter?? (Don't take this as being critical of you, because it's not...I know that staff in centers don't have a say in the menu, it's just a point...and it's why my kids bring lunch from home.)
    Kim
     
  25. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Yep, I know, and I agree. I think the food in most centers and schools is gross and I wouldn't even feed it to my dog (if I had one), muchless a child. I was actually thinking before about what you just said as well, and I also was trying to figure out why we would serve it if we don't even want to eat it. I don't necessarilly think all the food is totally unhealthy (some still have nutritional value), I just think it is labeled healthier than it really is. Meaning, it may not be the worst, but it certainly isn't great or good for you.
     
  26. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Exactly.
    I started a thread about it last week...after I came home steaming mad about what we'd served the kids that morning!
     
  27. Patch351

    Patch351 Rookie

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    In the program I am in the children are not allowed to bring a lunch (which I totally disagree with). They all must be served the same thing and it has to sit in front of them even if they are not going to eat it.
     
  28. KinderMissN

    KinderMissN Companion

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    Speaking of processed meats- we serve chicken "legs" which are 3-D pressed chicken meat. Needless to say, I am glad we don't eat with our kids.
     
  29. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    ok, 2am ramblings...

    more fuel to the fire...

    I understand the why and the how of family meals. I know some families don't eat together, or barely eat at all. I know everyone may not sit at a table, or even recognize silverware.

    but...

    I need to eat breakfast before I leave the house. that is just good healthy practice. after 4-8 hours of sleep, my body needs some energy. I have, but realize I should not, walk out the door, shop, work, or run errands on an empty stomach. And what happens if I get there and they are serving sticky buns, and red juice!? :eek:

    and, I prefer to eat my own lunch...I think as an adult I should have that preference. We are not training for the Olympics, and have to eat some power lunch. And besides. none of my kids look like they have missed a meal. Many weigh more than half my weight!

    New twist..no substitution for teacher. Must bring your own soy milk. Isn't that like a job requirement, so they should pay for it, like a uniform? :confused:

    and...to start a real war here...

    the meals are traditionally based on the ethnic background of the children...

    that being said.....says a lot right there...

    the children are not my racial background

    now, I have to look at, smell, and taste stuff I am not used to eating??!! :(

    Now I know why my mom hates the nursing home food!
     
  30. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Our breakfast is always cereal, some type of bread, fruit, and milk.

    Ok, well today our bread was cereal.

    So we had 2 packages of cereal?

    That's a balanced meal.
     

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