Nothing whets a child’s appetite for learning better than a hearty meal, especially one as exciting as ours! With a varied selection such as pasta bolognese, souvlaki, or Thai fish curry, the children of Bright ELC can experience a variety of cuisines from around the world.
You might wonder whether “Is this all healthy? Shouldn’t childcare food be healthy?” The answer is yes. Healthy and nutritious food can also be an appetising and flavourful fare. Food can be tasty and healthy, so long as you use quality ingredients and avoid the bad stuff.
How is the menu at Bright ELC planned?
As varied as our menus are, all meals are guided by the recommendations set out by the Victorian Government’s Healthy Eating Advisory Service. The Menu Planning Guidelines for Long Day Care, lists down the recommended daily intake and nutrition guidelines for children aged one to five years old.
With those guidelines setting the standard, Anu, our cook of Bright ELC, will use it as a guide in preparing every seasonal menu. This menu will also include input from parents of the children, educators’ feedback, and any suggestions such as special requests from the children.
First and foremost, every menu at Bright ELC is planned to meet the health criteria. Our team comes up with meals that incorporate different proteins, red and white meats, and tastes good with a low sugar, salt, and fat content.
With a defined selection, Anu will incorporate dishes from different parts of the world to encourage cultural inclusiveness through food. Presentation of the food is also taken into account to be attractive to the children.
Ultimately, we want meal time to be a shared experience. That is why we strive to provide every child with the same dish. For children with special dietary needs, our team takes the extra effort to prepare an alternate version of the same menu. This improvised menu will feature healthy substitute ingredients such as a vegetarian version of the meat lasagna.
Is Bright ELC’s seasonal menus accredited?
As part of the final decision making process of the seasonal menu, the recipes are tested in the centre with parents invited to sample the meals for themselves via the Storypark app. Parents are encouraged to provide feedback, and only when approval is given from all parents do we proceed with implementing the menu.
Finally, as a show of good faith that our menus are nutritious as it is delicious, we always have it accredited by the Healthy Eating Advisory Service. The accreditation process involves submitting each menu’s daily use of each ingredient and quantity per child as outlined in the Menu Planning Guidelines for Long Day Care.
The accreditation process is very thorough and lengthy, and once the menu is approved, Anu will implement it in the centre and serve it to the children. Here is an example of Bright’s seasonal menus.
A nourishing start
Creating a seasonal menu that excites yet nourishes is quite a task. There is a lot of culinary creativity, testing and tweaks going back-and-forth with educators, parents and the children, including the accreditation processes.
Like our activities, it is another part of Bright ELC that goes above and beyond. All that effort is definitely worthwhile when we see the joy on the faces of our children at Bright ELC, knowing full well that we are giving them the nourishment to be healthy and capable individuals of the future.