Nutrition & Food
Good nutrition is an essential ingredient of high quality child care. The ECE Lab School provides food, in the quantities required by the Child Care and Early Years Act 2014, for snacks and lunches for all children. Our meals are catered. They are kept heated in an electric warmer at the temperature mandated by the Toronto Public Health until it is served by ECE Lab School Early Childhood Assistant.
Lab School staff members strive to provide children with a pleasant, relaxed eating environment for meals and snack times. When involved in serving food, staff keep food safety and safe eating habits uppermost in their minds.
The Lab School gives all children a variety of foods for meals and snacks. They eat at tables with a teacher. We encourage children to try foods, but do not force them to eat. The Lab School recognizes that a child’s need for nourishment varies greatly. We expect and accept that children eat different types of foods in varying quantities each day. At the ECE Lab School we never use food, including desserts, as a reward or punishment. The dessert we serve is nutritious enough, so that if the child eats only that portion of the meal, she or he will have food.
Lab School staff modifiy some foods to make them safer for young children. For example, before serving them to young children, we slice grapes in halves; remove the pits from plums, peaches, cherries, serving milk warm/cold, and so on. We do not give toddlers celery or popcorn. We steam vegetables before giving them to our youngest children.
Food Allergies and Restrictions
We can accommodate most children who have food allergies, sensitivities or food restrictions due to religion or reasons of conscience. The Lab School staff will follow a family's written instructions for food restrictions. If we cannot provide an acceptable alternative, we will ask you to send alternate food for your child each day.
The Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 outlines specific requirements regarding the total amount from each food group we must provide to children. In order that the ECE Lab School eliminate or severely restrict any one of the major food groups for an extended period of time, you must meet with your child’s teacher or Lab School Manager to discuss a strategy for ensuring your child’s nutritional requirements are met.
Policy – Food from Home
In addition to the hot meal served for lunch, ECE Lab School provides the required morning and afternoon snack, (and a late evening snack) for the children. It is usually not necessary for you to send a snack with your child. If she or he arrives early (and has missed breakfast or wasn’t ready for it) you might want to send a “bag breakfast.” We will help your child find a suitable spot to eat where the other children will not disturb him or her. A few children have sensitivities, restrictions and allergies to certain foods. To protect the safety of all the children, and to help everyone understand how important it is, we do not allow children to share food with each other.
If your child wants to share (and you are agreeable) you are welcome to bring in a ‘special treat’ – snack, dessert, fruit, vegetables, etc. – for all the children. We ask that you discuss this ahead of time with a staff member. (Peanut/nut allergies, other allergies, food restrictions, and sugar intake are concerns for some of our families). You will be asked to sign-off a “Birthday/Baked Goods Allergy Parental Sign-off” form.
NOTE: We have children in the program who have anaphylactic reactions to peanuts, tree nuts and other foods. In people with severe allergy, an amount less than 1/1000 of a peanut can cause a life-threatening reaction. As cleaning away all the vestiges of peanut butter is nearly impossible, we ask your cooperation in not bringing peanut butter or any nut products into the ECE Lab School
Again, we do not allow children to share food.