Health and Nutrition

Our philosophy of human development recognizes mind and body as an interactive system. As such, pressures put upon any one part of the system affect the total functioning of the individual, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Likewise, nourishment of any part enhances functioning at all levels.

Food is one way we can nourish ourselves. With this in mind, we use nutritious foods for snacks to further facilitate optimal mental, emotional, and physical functioning of the children, and encourage parents to do the same. These include whole grain products, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and proteins. Foods especially known to increase susceptibility to stress and inhibit coping mechanisms that we do not use are:

  • white and brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses
  • enriched white flour
  • additives (artificial flavoring, coloring, preservatives)
  • foods containing caffeine (chocolate, soda pop)
  • excessive salt

Fixing lunches for your children can be very difficult for the parent who does not know what or how much his/her child eats. Please talk to your child's teacher if you have questions, or need help.

After observing the children's eating habits, we have come up with a few suggestions:

  1. Keep portions small unless your child has a large appetite -- a whole sandwich is usually too much. Usually the filling is enough (children often throw away the bread).
  2. Keep the sweets and starches to a minimum -- we suggest, at most, once a week. Children who have sweets or chips in their lunch want to eat them first and don't have an appetite for the rest of their food. Again, keep the portions small.
  3. We urge caution when sending foods for children under five, to avoid incidents of choking. Grapes, hot dogs, carrots and other foods should be cut up when sent to school, avoiding the "coin" style cut, instead cutting in quarters or strips.
  4. We provide milk and water in a cup.
  5. Suggested foods:
    • Proteins: pieces of meat, yogurt, cheese (w/ crackers), eggs, chicken, cottage cheese, tuna, almond butter. (The Center restricts peanuts and peanut butter due to allergies.)
    • Fruit: any fresh fruit, unsweetened applesauce.
    • Vegetables: carrots, peas, cherry tomatoes, raw broccoli or cauliflower, or other fresh vegetables.
    • Carbohydrates: whole wheat bread, whole grain crackers.

Peanut and Peanut Butter Restriction

The CEC implements a program wide practice that expressly prohibits peanuts and peanut butter from the infant/toddler, preschool and school-age programs at the Oak Grove site (140 Foothill Boulevard). The CEC will not be purchasing or serving any food or snacks with peanuts or peanut butter at this location. In order to facilitate this practice, we request the cooperation of all the parents in these programs to help us achieve this goal.

Specifically, we are asking that parents not provide peanuts or peanut butter in their child’s breakfast or lunch.

This particular practice has been implemented to address the needs of several children in our program who have a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. Simple contact with peanuts or their oils could be potentially fatal to these children, and we have a responsibility to care for these children and address their needs. Even though the program restricts peanuts and peanut butter, it is critical that you notify a director of any food allergy, including an allergy to peanuts.


The Health Department has advised that certain foods are not safe to eat if left unrefrigerated. For this reason, we make refrigerators available in each room for perishable foods in the infant/toddler and preschool groups. Refrigeration helps to prevent bacterial food poisoning, keeps harmful bacteria out if possible, and keeps them from growing if they do get in. Public health requirements also mandate that we keep cold food refrigerated at 40 degrees or lower until served, and keep hot food hot, above 140 degrees F, until served. We monitor the effectiveness of the refrigerators closely.

When placing food in the refrigerator, we ask that the food item/container is marked with your child’s name.

In preparing children’s lunches, we ask parents to be aware that the following foods are especially vulnerable to spoiling: certain dairy products, any dish made with cream sauce; meats, poultry, fish, sandwiches made with mayonnaise, or sandwich fillings containing mayonnaise.