WestCOP Nutrition Program is overseen by the Nutrition Coordinator, who is a Registered Dietitian.
The meals served at our centers are based on the following Head Start Performance Standards:
- Ensure each child in a program that operates for fewer than six hoursper day receives meals and snacks that provide one third to one half of the child’s daily nutritional needs
- Ensure each child in a program that operates for six hours or moreper day receives meals and snacks that provide one half to two thirds of the child’s daily nutritional needs, depending upon the length of the program day
- Serve three- to five-year olds meals and snacks that conform to USDA requirements in 7 CFR 210, 220, and 226, and are high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar, and salt.
All meals are served “family style” with a teacher seated at every table with the children. The staff enjoy the same meal as the children and serve as a model for healthy eating.
The meals served at our centers are also in compliance with the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
What We Feed Our Children
- We provide children with proper nutrition and serving sizes as per the national CACFP guidelines.
- Each day we serve over 2,000 hot lunches to the children of our families throughout Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess County
- Each month we serve over 40,0000 hot lunches and meals to our children.
- We pride ourself on serving our children fresh fruit and vegetables year round.
- We promote breastfeeding in our centers or provide our infants with the appropriate formula.
- Each of our centers has a menu that is individually tailored to the vast variety of cultures in Westchester County.
- A Food Satisfaction Survey conducted in May 2018 concluded that:
- There is a 91.4% satisfaction rate with the taste of our food.
- There is a 94.3% approval rate of the nutritional value of the meals served.
- Allergies and Dietary Restrictions
- All of our children are carefully screened for allergies and food intolerances. When a child is identified, the original menu is adjusted to meet their specific needs and the adjusted menu is made as close to the original meal as possible so all children feel included.
- Meals are served on real dishes whenever possible. In centers where this is not possible, biodegradable dishes and utensils are used.
- All of our staff complete the ServSafe training every 5 years.
Below is a sample menu from one of our full day programs:
Nutrition Education in the Classroom
- Each program teaches the Eat Well, Play Hard In Child Care Settings curriculum in addition to the academic curriculum. This program addresses healthy eating habits, physical activity and screen time through weekly nutrition education and activities.
- This curriculum also has a parent component, which helps promote nutrition both in the classroom and at home.
- Each year a handful of programs are selected to participate in the Eat Well, Play
Hard Champion Center Program, which is done in partnership with Nepperhan Community Center.
- In addition to nutrition education, we promote dental hygiene by providing our children with toothbrushes, having them brush their teeth once a day and using UV sanitation to keep each child’s toothbrush clean and germ-free.
Individual Nutrition Education
- Our Nutrition coordinator/ Registered Dietitian meets with individual families who have concerns or questions about not just their child’s nutrition but their entire family. Because nutrition is about more than just the individual, it is important that the entire family benefits from balanced nutritional choices.
- WestCOP has the flexibility to provide nutrition counseling and support for our families as frequently as is needed.
- In addition, there are center parent meetings held which educate families on nutrition.
Parent Nutrition Education
- Cornell Cooperative Extension comes into our centers and presents and teaches the Eat Smart New York program which covers everything from balanced nutrition, meal planning and budgeting.
- We work with the following community partners to enhance our programs and foster a lifelong love of healthy foods:
- Food Bank of Westchester
- Cornell Cooperative Extension
- Women’s Infants and Children (WIC)
- We also work with the following schools to provide students with an educational and interactive internship, which provide our programs with new and fresh ideas:
- Hunter College
- Lehman College
- Penn State University
- SUNY Westchester Community College
- As we progress and continue to improve, we are striving to implement onsite gardens in each of our programs. These gardens will be used to educate children about where their food comes from and give them a sense of ownership after growing their own fruits and vegetables.