Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 4: Nutrition and Food Service

4.8 Kitchen and Equipment

4.8.0 Food Preparation Area

The food preparation area of the kitchen should be separate from eating, play, laundry, toilet, and bathroom areas and from areas where animals are permitted. The food preparation area should not be used as a passageway while food is being prepared. Food preparation areas should be separated by a door, gate, counter, or room divider from areas the children use for activities unrelated to food, except in small family child care homes when separation may limit supervision of children.

Infants and toddlers should not have access to the kitchen in child care centers. Access by older children to the kitchen of centers should be permitted only when supervised by staff members who have been certified by the nutritionist/registered dietitian or the center director as qualified to follow the facility’s sanitation and safety procedures.

In all types of child care facilities, children should never be in the kitchen unless they are directly supervised by a caregiver/teacher. Children of preschool-age and older should be restricted from access to areas where hot food is being prepared. School-age children may engage in food preparation activities with adult supervision in the kitchen or the classroom. Parents/guardians and other adults should be permitted to use the kitchen only if they know and follow the food safety rules of the facility. The facility should check with local health authorities about any additional regulations that apply.

The presence of children in the kitchen increases the risk of contamination of food and the risk of injury to children from burns. Use of kitchen appliances and cooking techniques may require more skill than can be expected for children’s developmental level. The most common burn in young children is scalding from hot liquids tipped over in the kitchen (1).

The kitchen should be used only by authorized individuals who have met the requirements of the local health authority and who know and follow the food safety rules of the facility so they do not contaminate food and food surfaces for food-related activities. Under adult supervision, school-age children may be encouraged to help with developmentally appropriate food preparation, which increases the likelihood that they will eat new foods.

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
Appendix C: Nutrition Specialist, Registered Dietitian, Licensed Nutritionist, Consultant, and Food Service Staff Qualifications
  1. Ring, L. M. 2007. Kids and hot liquids–A burning reality. J Pediatric Health Care 21:192-94.