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February 16, 2024

Take a Break to Reflect on Snacks

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
—Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941, Author

What should preschoolers eat? The U.S. government’s MyPlate site recommends: “It’s important for preschoolers to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy and fortified soy alternatives. Choose options for meals, beverages, and snacks that have limited added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.” They offer tips on picky eating, safe foods, activity sheets and even a template for ‘veggie dice.’ The American Association of Pediatricians offers suggestions on healthy beverages and foods, and recommends a “parent provides, child decides” approach.

A typical meal or snack plan in the United States might lean heavily on string cheese and sliced apples but Alyssa Blakemore, an American living in Italy, recently wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece, “my [5 year old] son loves when his school serves passato di verdure con pastina, a popular pasta dish brightened by a sauce made from freshly cooked winter vegetables.” She continued, “Early exposure to varied foods allows Italian children to develop diverse palates and drives lifelong healthy eating habits. The Mediterranean diet, linked to lower risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes, is one of the healthiest in the world.”

In the article, “This Is Bread? A Journey to Decolonizing Our Snack Time,” Nicky Byres and Tianna Morris share how their program’s snacks and meals changed in response to an educator asking, “Why is our snack menu so western and unreflective of the cultures the children represented?” As they invited suggestions from their staff, “each one came with a story, a rich story, of the educator’s history and culture, of their families and cooking with beloved parents and grandparents.”

Their article inspired our newest Coffee Break Reflections, which includes a brief prompt for journaling, a meeting ice-breaker, or a conversation with a colleague.

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