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Health Unit to Offer a New Nutrition Program to Local Child Care Centres

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is excited to offer a new nutrition program for local child care centres called Take Charge. Child care centres who sign on to this free program will have access to annual nutrition training, quarterly resources, and regular access to a Registered Dietitian for advice. All activities are voluntary and centres need only commit to working to improve at least one, self-selected, aspect of their menu or eating environment. Some examples include: not serving sugar sweetened beverages, creating a vegetable garden, or increasing the variety of fruit or vegetables on the menu. 

Take Charge Windsor-Essex County aims to normalize healthy eating and make it easier to eat well in a variety of settings across Windsor-Essex County, including workplaces, recreation centres, and schools. Through Take Charge, the Health Unit plans to work with organizations across the city and county to help them make sustainable changes to their environments to support healthy eating.

As child care providers, you play an important role in helping children learn to love eating well. Early experiences with food shape children’s lifelong preferences and eating behaviours. Exposure to a variety of wholesome foods in a positive and structured environment will help children nourish their bodies, develop a healthy relationship with food, and be better prepared for learning.

Resources to Support Ministry of Education’s New Nutrition Guidelines

Recognizing the importance of healthy eating, the Ministry of Education consulted the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health to create nutrition recommendations for the Ministry’s Child Care Centre Licensing Manual, 2018.  These recently released recommendations provide better guidance on how to improve the nutrition quality of menus and how to create positive eating environments.

The Ontario Dietitians in Public Health (ODPH) have also published provincial child care nutrition resources to supplement these new recommendations, including a Practical Guide and Self-Assessment Tool. The Practical Guide includes recommendations on menu planning, healthy food and beverage choices, and supporting a healthy eating environment. The Self-Assessment Tool complements the Practical Guide and will help child care providers assess their menus to ensure compliance with the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (section 42 of Ont. Reg. 137/15). These resources are available in both English and French.

This website also includes a new nutrition toolkit for child care providers, called Paint Your Plate with Vegetables and Fruit. The goal of this toolkit is to expose young children to a variety of vegetables and fruit in child care settings. The toolkit aligns with How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years (2014) and offers menu planning tips, in addition to curriculum resources.

For more information about the Take Charge program or the Ministry of Education’s new nutrition recommendations, call our dietitian at 519-258-2146 ext. 1352. We look forward to working with you.

Registered Dietitian

The Heath Unit offers menu consultation to local childcare providers free-of-charge. For more information, contact our Healthy Families Hotline to be transferred to our Registered Dietitian. Healthy Families Hotline: 519-258-2146 ext. 1350.

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