Apples Have Names Like Children Have Names

When I first began cooking for young learners I was given a menu to execute in mid cycle; I had just been hired as the chef taking over their program. Printed on the menu were the words “yellow apples” Hum, I thought. I went to the director who oversaw the food program and asked her what do you mean by “yellow apples” maybe Golden Delicious or Ginger Gold? No she told me, they are the apples in the grocery store between the red apples and the green apples. Wow—just about all I could say was Wow!

I knew right then that I had to support educators, children, families, and the early learning community to understand that apples have names like children have names: Braeburn, Cameo, Fuji, Gala, Ginger Gold, Golden Blush, Pink Lady, Jonagold and Summerfield to name just a few. By naming the farmer who grew the apples we add another opportunity for learning.

In September the children at our school tasted:
• Gravenstein Apples from Coke Farm
• Ginger Gold Apples from Adolfo Alvarez Farm
• McIntosh Apples from Viva Tierra Farm

What is the name of the apple you last ate?


From Chef to Chef Educator

In 2010 I began a graduate program at Mills College, and have now completed my Masters degree in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Leadership. The focus of my capstone work was the creation of an obesity prevention model for early learning.

My Obesity Prevention Model for Early Learning is supported by the educational theories of John Dewey’s Experiential Learning Theory, Jean Piaget’s Constructivist Theory, and Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. The model is rooted in agrarian thinking (Berry, The Whole Horse, 2002), and the responsibilities we have as educators to connect ourselves and our early learners to the people who bring food to our tables.

Early learners in full time care from age one to five will receive 1000 meals and 2000 snacks in their four years, and will learn from each meal and snack. What are they learning from yours?

Berry, W. (2002). The Whole Horse. In A. Kimbrell, Fatal Harvest (pp. 7-15). Sausalito, CA: Foundation for Deep Ecology.


Sample Nutrition Policy: Example of an Administrator's Goal

• Meal and snack times will strive for excellence by meeting or exceeding the rating of a 5 as defined by the ECERS Scale moving toward a 7.

• Children will help to set tables for snack and meal times.
• Children will serve themselves from family style serving bowls.
• Children will help to clear tables at the end of snack and meal times.
• Children will help to wipe up table-top spills.
• Sturdy child size plates, bowls, cups and silverware will be used.
• Sturdy pitchers, family style serving bowls and serving spoons will be used.
• Teachers will eat lunch and snacks with children because children learn by example.
• Meals will be a time for sharing in conversation. Staff will encourage children to share events and talk about their day. Children will also be encouraged to talk to one another about these same topics.


Sample Nutrition Policy: Example of a Teacher’s Goal

• To teach children about food and nutrition.

• Food seasonal activities are included in the teaching curriculum.
• Nutrition awareness activities are included in the center’s program.
• Hands-on experience in food preparation is available to all children in order to teach the life skills of cooking for joy and pleasure.
• Children learn about food through literature, poetry and song.
• A cook book and food stories library are part of the material that is available to the staff, parents and children.


Sample Nutrition Policy: Example of a Parent’s Goal

• To provide children with a nutrient-dense snack program that is varied, diverse and delicious.

• Nutrient-dense foods to be encouraged are seasonal, local and organic fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
• Staff, children and parents are encouraged to research and make new snack menu items that use nutrient-dense foods.
• A legume is the focus of a least one snack each week.
• Avoid foods high in salt and sugar; processed food is limited.
• The snack program is trans-fat free.
• Fruit juice is only used as an ingredient.
• Water is offered with all snacks.

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