To meet the nutritional needs of the children in care, teachers must be prepared to plan healthy menus that children will enjoy and eat. The Nutrition Project will give you the opportunity to plan nutritious, healthy meals, share nutrition information with parents and reflect on the connection of meals in the childcare/preschool setting to the child’s attitudes, behaviors and belief about nutrition and the child’s health and health education.


This project will include:

  • Part 1: Develop a Nutrition Newsletter Page/Posterfor Parents on MyPlate
  • Part 2: Developa nutritious, healthy,3-DayMenu plan based on the guidelines and resources set forth in these directions
  • Part 3: Questions for Reflectionwill examinespecial considerations in menu planning and the connection of designing and developing nutritious, healthy meals to the child’s health and health education.


Part One: Nutrition Newsletter Page for Parents


Nutrition education for children and their parents is one of the most powerful tools that teachers have to promote and protect the health and well-being of children. A page dedicated to nutrition in the weekly or monthly newsletter to parents, is an effective way to inform and educate parents about nutrition.


For Part OneYou will pretend you work at a preschool with a monthly newsletter to parents that devotes one page to nutrition educating parents on Nutrition and Healthy Eating for Preschoolers.


You will write and design the nutrition page for the first newsletter of the year with the topic of Healthy Eating for Preschoolers using the MyPlate system.


The design can be paragraphs with graphics, or, like a poster with graphics and bullet points. Be creative and make it appealing to read with graphics. (one page only)


It will be graded on demonstration of your knowledge of nutrition and healthy eating for Preschoolers and the MyPlate system, creativity, college level writing and completeness.


(To implement this at your preschool some topics could be: healthy snacks; how to read nutrition labels and shop for healthy foods; how to engage children in food production (such as gardening) and preparation (i.e. cooking) and serving (family style); recipes; food behaviors; introduction of new foods; food allergies; vegan diets; foods that should be eliminated or strictly limited from the diet and why; foods that should be plentiful in the diet and why; and many more…see text, Foundations, and Framework for ideas.)

Part Two: 3-Day Menu Plan


For Part Two create a 3-day menu that will include breakfast, morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack for ages 3-5 (CACFP) or 1400 calories (MyPlate) following the Dietary Guidelines, the directions for this project, and using the menu plan format included in these directions.


Established nutritional guidelines help teachers plan for adequate nutrition in menu selection. In planning your 3 daymenu follow the USDA Dietary Guidelines incorporatedin MyPlate and CACFP found in chapters 6 and 9 and on the MyPlate, CACFP and Dietary Guidelines websites.

These guidelines emphasize three main points in regards to menu planning:

  • Consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood
  • Consume fewer(to no) foods with added sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains
  • Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight



  • MyPlate Daily Food Plan:

– For daily serving size, for 3-year-old, click the “1400 calorie food plan”                 -for sample meal and snack ideas  under the  “1400 calorie food plan,”click “pattern A” and “pattern B” for sample meal and snack ideas.


  • MyPlate website Homepage:


  • CACFP Meal Patterns Guidelines (click on children):


  • CACFP Menu Planning (click on CACFP Menu Planning Guide (PDF):


  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010):


For more resources see text, Weekly Folder and Resources and Links





The menu must include:


___Menu items for Breakfast, Morning Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack for 3 days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

___following the Dietary Guidelines of American, MyPlateand CACFP. See chapters 6 and 9, Chart 9-1 (CACFP), Chart 9-2 (sample menu) and the above websites.

___Serving sizes (ages 3-5 CACFP, or, 1400 caloriesMyPlate) for each menu item

___All whole grains (no refined grains)

___No processed foods

___Foods with NO added sugar

___Food with No added salt (low-sodium)

___No Trans Fats, and less than 10% (preferable none or close to none) saturated fats

___No peanuts

___Culturally Diverse Foods, as well as regional food influences

___Vegan food options for one of the days of the week, Tuesday.

___Variety of foods and preparation methods

___Foods that have sensory appeal

___Foods that can be served Family-Style



Notes on Menu Plan:


  • CACFP uses ages to determine serving size. For this menu use the CACFP 3-5 ages guidelines. MyPlate uses calories. For this menu use the 1400 calorie diet which is for a3 year old who is physically active at least 60 minutes a day.
  • MyPlate recommends at least half the grains should be whole grains but for this menu projectallgrains must be whole grains to encourage healthier attitudes and behaviors.
  • One way of engaging families in menu planning is to ask for recipes from their culture. Pretend you have done that and include culturally diverse foods in your plan.
  • Special considerations need to be taken for many reasons (see chapter 9) including vegan diets and allergies such as peanut allergies. For this menu we will pretend there is a child with a peanut allergy so no peanuts can be used in your menu plan. We will also pretend there is a child who attends two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays who follows a vegan diet so the menu will need to include vegan options for Tuesday, either to be served to everyone or as a second choice, for each meal and snack on those days.
  • Include a variety of foods to serve as a model for healthy eating and gives opportunity for children to choose from a greater variety of foods at mealtime, which connects the California Learning Foundation 2.1.




Filling out the Menu Plan:


  • Use the 3 Day Menu Plan Format on the following page to create your 3 day menu. (You may design your own as long as the days of the week are at the top, and the names of the meals and snacks are on the side, with the totals for each food group for each day are on the bottom like the 3 Day Menu format on the following page.)


  • Fill in each menu item with the serving size for eachitem next to the meal or snack and under the day of the week you are planning it for. If the menu item has more that one ingredient in it, like a sandwich, include all the ingredients and serving sizes for each ingredient under each menu items (in italics):



Examples: Egg Salad SandwichSpaghetti and Meatballs

1 slice of whole wheat bread    1 cup of cooked Brown Rice Pasta

             1 hard boiled egg                        ½ cup of tomato sauce

½ large orange                       1 once of lean ground turkey meatball  

1 cup Milk



  • At the bottom of the page add up the total of each food group for the day. They should match the 1400 calorie in MyPlate (or 3-5 year old serving sizes for CACFP) In the totals below I’ve subtracted the dinner amounts from the MyPlate 1400 calorie Meal Plan as your menus will not include dinner:


Grains – 3 ounces

Vegetables – 1 cup

Fruits – 1 ½ cups

Dairy – 1 ½ cups

Protein – 2ounces




See next page for 3-Day Menu Plan Format…









3 Day Menu Plan

Monday                                               Tuesday                                                   Wednesday



































Totals for each day







Part Three: Questions for Reflection


For Part Three:

  • Respond to the following questions.
  • Include the question number and the question in your response.
  • Use textbook (chs. 6 and 9), California Preschool Learning Foundations (pgs. 77-79, 85-87, 91-93 and the California Preschool Curriculum Framework (pgs. 262 -275) and websites listed in course for references to answer questions 1a, 2a. 3a.
  • Make sure to cite the general questions 1a, 2a, 3a.


  • 1a) From Readings: How might you engage families with menu planning in Preschools? What are some interactions and strategies that could be used?

1b) For just your menu:What was one way you engaged families with yourmenu plan?


  • 2a) From Readings:What are some elements of family-style eating that can be incorporated into mealtime and snack-time activities in Preschools?

2b)For just your menu:Does your menu plan allow for family-style eating such as having food choices that can be placed in common serving dishes that children can serve themselves and pass from child to child? If so, how? If not, how might you change your menu to allow for family style eating?


  • 3a) From Readings: How might you integrate cultural food preferences and eating practices of families in planning a nutrition program (e.g. meals, snacks, cooking activities)?

3b) For just your menu:How did you integrate cultural food practices in planning your menu?


  • How have you addressed special considerations (such as children with disabilities and other special needs, religious beliefs, vegetarian diets, and food allergies) when planning your menu?


  • Knowing that nutritional behaviors, attitudes and beliefs are learned through modeling, observation and daily activities and interactions (which meals and snacks are part of) how might the Nutrition Foundations 1.1, 2.1, and 2.2 influence your menu planning?


Nutrition Foundations (at around 60 months):

  • Identify a larger variety of foods and may know some related food groups.

2.1 Demonstrate greater understanding that eating a variety of food helps the body grow and be healthy, and chose from a greater variety of foods at


2.2 Indicate food preferences based on familial and cultural practices and on some knowledge of healthy choices.

Saving and submitting Nutrition Project


  • The Nutrition Project will be 3-4 pages long:

Page 1: Part One – Nutrition Newsletter Page/Poster for Parents

Page 2: Part Two – Menu Plan

Page 3 (and possible Page 4): Part Three: Questions for Reflection


  • Save your Nutrition Project (pages 1-3(or 4)) as “Nutrition Project CHLD 205” on your computer.


  • Submit on the Assignment Page. (Click on “Assignments” on the main menu of the course. Then click on the “Nutrition Project.” On the Nutrition Project Assignment Page, under “Assignment Submission” click on “Browse My Computer” next to “Attach File.” Find your saved Nutrition Project and click/choose it. It will upload to the Assignment Page.




See next page for 1400 Calorie Daily Food Plan…