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Help! My preschool class eats CRAP!

I'm a preschool teacher that works with a class at a daycare. We feed them "healthy" breakfast and snacks, (healthy being in quotes because while some people may find non-sugary cereal served with cows milk and canned peaches "healthy", I most certainly don't) but they all bring their own lunches from home.

And its appalling.

There are 9 kids in my class.
I'd say 2 kids' parents make a concerted effort to have their children eat non-processed foods, but they still slip a bit.
4 kids' parents give their child some  "healthy" food  (again the quotes, because I don't believe a turkey sandwich is healthy, but its better than some things), but always include a few sugary/fattening/uber processed snacks
3 kids' parents simply don't care, they give them pure crap.

Sample lunch of one kid (NO JOKE)
Prepackaged chef boyardee spaghetti and meatballs
Doritos
Chocolate chip granola bar
Trix sugar filled yougurt
Juice Box (of course its only like 10% juice)
Gummy snacks

Whoa! I can't believe that a 4 year old eats so much junk! All the processed food and sugar! No wonder 1 in 3 kids will develop early onset diabetes.

Not to mention my fellow teacher is a horrible eater. She eats lunch with the kids and routinely eats Cheetos or chips or doughnuts with the kids. I swear, I've never seen her eat anything remotely healthy. She'd probably be in opposition to anything I suggested involving nutrition, since I suspect she thinks I'm a nut already when it comes to food.

I've been experimenting making healthy snacks for the kids for birthdays and such. I've made some fat-free whole wheat vegan, processed sugar-free cupcakes that had good reviews from my friends, but I've been hesitant on introducing them to the kids. What should I say about them when i give them to them? "Hey, these are probably the healthiest junk food you've ever had!"

So my question is: What could I do about this? I'm at a loss. I've considered implementing nutrition into our lesson plans, but my views are very "extreme" for 4 year old kids whose parents have meat and dairy in every single meal. But teaching kids conventional nutrition, ie: meat, dairy, fruits, veggies, whole grains- sweets to a minimum goes against what I believe also. And plus, how far could I get teaching nutrition when they have little control over what they eat?

I need a little guidance, I'm new at teaching and new with working with kids. Maybe somebodies been in this situation.

i've found kids will eat a whole lot of good foods as long they are presented in a positive way. if their role models are like "yuck, this is gross" and refuses to buy healthy foods, then of course they will eat the junk they are given. as other threads have noted - kids eat what they get, they don't really have the ability to choose what they eat when they are young.

i think a good way to introduce healthy eating would be to introduce them to fruits and veggies and whatnot at school. perhaps have theme days, learn about how/where they grow. plant a little herb garden. try them different ways (fruit leathers, smoothies, fresh). you could even let the parents know about the special theme days so that perhaps they might talk with their kids about the new foods they are trying and perhaps liking at school and continue to have them at home. i think it would be hard to talk about vegan diets, but pushing fruits and veggies won't be much of an issue, esp since i think most omni parents see them as a "challenge" to get kids to eat them and might be happy you are encouraging them to try new things.

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I feel your pain! My 6 yr old is in 1st grade & it IS shocking what passes for healthy. I don't like her to eat anything that enters that classroom or lunchroom & try to pack everything she needs.

I agree with baypuppy--kids do eat a lot of good foods when presented in a positive way. For the XMas party, I brought a tray of organic veggies & was incredibly surprised at how well they went over! Every kid (except for one) loved them & wanted seconds.

I'd suggest spinning a positive approach (organic veggies are great!) vs. negative (Meat stinks!) so that you don't get in hot water with the parents. At least that helps increase awareness of the good stuff...

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Wow! Your post of their typical lunch is shocking to me! That is one way that Holland is different. It's illegal for things like chips and cola to be sold for school lunches. Granted, they could go a long way towards being more plant-based, but still there's nowhere near the amount of pre-packaged crap here.

My daughters both go to daycare where all meals & snacks are provided. If your child has an allergy or you have a food preference, you just tell them. If they can' accommodate it, they are happy for you to bring anything. They get a morning snack of fruit, lunch, and a snack in the afternoon.

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i want to move to Holland now!

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