The nutrition education component of the Family Enrichment Program focuses on providing a variety of healthy snacks for parents and children during center based activities. Feeding your child and family well is one of the cornerstones of successful parenting. It has been our observation that many parents need extra support and information to fulfill this important parenting role.
Snacks for children appear throughout the toddler curriculum and are creatively designed to be appealing to young children, nutritious, and related to the theme of the playgroup. Children who participate in the playgroups do not actually prepare the snacks, but sit down to already prepared snacks with their peers. It is the intent of the program to set forth a model for parents who could prepare a similar snack together with their child at home.
Snacks for parents are prepared by a group of parents who meet weekly in a special staff directed cooking class. In the class, parents are educated in the basics of safe food handling and food preparation. The snacks prepared by the parent "cooks" are then provided to all of the parents throughout the week at their parent groups. Questions regarding the parent snacks can then be directed to the parent cooking group participants, who actually prepared the snacks. This particular approach for providing snacks to parents increases parent involvement in the program.
Monthly themes for the parent snacks are suggested and parent input regarding specific recipes is welcomed. The recipes selected are chosen to be appealing to a multicultural group of parents and to expand the parent's knowledge of and interest in food preparation. All of the parent snacks prepared follow the food pyramid guidelines, and include each of the basic food groups. Throughout the month, recipes alternate, focusing on breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Recipes for foods commonly offered in the Women Infant and Children's Nutrition Program (WIC), including beans, rice, oatmeal and peanut butter, are often highlighted in the parents' snacks. Discussions during food preparation groups may focus on such things as how to maximize the nutritional benefits of food, how prepare food to encourage picky eaters, or special shopping tips. Recipes for the weekly parent snacks are provided to parents at each parent group and are included in this section.