Early Childhood is a time when lifelong eating habits are established. We believe at Bear Park we have an important role in creating a culture of helping children to develop healthy eating practices and food behaviours.
Healthy eating not only supports a child’s growth, it is also has been proven to be fundamental tor their brain development. As we all know early childhood is a time of tremendous growth across s al l areas of development; such as sensory, motor, emotional and cognitive. Bear Park strongly acknowledges this importance and therefore endeavour to provide children with at least half their RDI (Recommend Daily Intake).
“A complete and balanced diet is therefore a crucial factor in protecting children’s health, offering foods that are natural and simple, varying the menu often to avoid nutritional excesses and deficiencies”
(Ilaria Cavallini and Maddalena Tedeschi, 2008)
All our meals and snacks are freshly prepared daily by our Chefs in our own fully equipped kitchen. We provide all children morning tea and a hot lunch, and the Infant and Toddlers an afternoon tea. We believe by providing a hot meal in the middle of the day it more adequately meets the nutritional needs of the child at the time when they are hungry and not overly tired.
At Bear Park we value meal times and believe it is important for children to have the opportunities to eat together and experience the joy food and dining can bring. We ensure we provide an environment at mealtimes that are positive, relaxed, social and culturally appropriate for the children as this encourages social interaction and learning.
All our children are exposed to wonderful “in season produce”, as we have recently designed both a Summer and Winter menu. We use quality ingredients daily such as, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, freshly cut meats and dairy products and we have ensured when reviewing our menu that the children at Bear Park are provided with a range of these foods and nutrients regularly.
The Bear Park menu has been designed to cater for all children and their dietary needs. Children with allergies or food preferences are given alternative meals, but those very similar to meals offered to others. We endeavour to ensure meal times are inclusive of all children within the group.
“Food tastes develop at an early age, and encouraging healthy choices early in life can help to create lifelong preferences for healthy foods”
(Ministry of Education, Focus on Food, p3).
Anna Richards, a paediatric dietician specialist kindly reviewed and up dated our Bear Park menu, early in 2014. Anna has specialist skills in children’s nutrition and dietetics. Anna was given all the existing nutritionally designed meals we had been preparing at Bear Park and she was able to carefully critique these even further.