Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.6 Food Brought From Home

4.6.0 Selection and Preparation of Food Brought From Home

The parent/guardian may provide meals for the child upon written agreement between the parent/guardian and the staff. Food brought into the facility should have a clear label showing the child’s full name, the date, and the type of food. Lunches and snacks the parent/guardian provides for one individual child’s meals should not be shared with other children. When foods are brought to the facility from home or elsewhere, these foods should be limited to those listed in the facility’s written policy on nutritional quality of food brought from home. Potentially hazardous and perishable foods should be refrigerated and all foods should be protected against contamination.
Food borne illness and poisoning from food is a common occurrence when food has not been properly refrigerated and covered. Although many such illnesses are limited to vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes they are life-threatening. Restricting food sent to the facility to be consumed by the individual child reduces the risk of food poisoning from unknown procedures used in home preparation, storage, and transport. Food brought from home should be nourishing, clean, and safe for an individual child. In this way, other children should not be exposed to unknown risk. Inadvertent sharing of food is a common occurrence in early care and education. The facility has an obligation to ensure that any food offered to children at the facility or shared with other children is wholesome and safe as well as complying with the food and nutrition guidelines for meals and snacks that the early care and education program should observe.
The facility, in collaboration with parents/guardians and the food service staff/nutritionist/registered dietitian, should establish a policy on foods brought from home for celebrating a child’s birthday or any similar festive occasion. Programs should inform parents/guardians about healthy food alternatives like fresh fruit cups or fruit salad for such celebrations. Sweetened treats are highly discouraged, but if provided by the parent/guardian, then the portion size of the treat served should be small.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Nutritional Quality of Food Brought From Home Food and Nutrition Service Policies and Plans