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I am a childcare provider, and I am having trouble locating healthy food for children in my care. What should I do?
If you are having difficulty locating food items, start by substituting items on your menu for healthy alternatives. For example:
- Fruits and vegetables. Look for frozen and canned options for items, including canned or jarred applesauce, pears, peaches, pineapple. Frozen berries and frozen fruit are also good options. Remember, too, you can sub out a second different vegetable at lunch and supper, so you could utilize canned and frozen vegetables and serve fruit less often
- Grains. Consider using pasta, rice, macaroni, oatmeal, cereal (in the sugar limit). Wraps, buns, English muffins, bread sticks, crackers, and plain graham crackers may be used too. Whole grain is served once a day. Crackers are a good option. Look for store brand versions versus name brand
- Meat. Consider frozen options including frozen fish, frozen chicken strips, and beef patties. For tacos, consider using vegetarian refried beans, black beans, kidney beans with cheese
In addition, family/group home providers can get healthy meals and snacks free of charge by visiting a Meet Up and Eat Up site in their community. All school districts and some community-based organizations are offering drive through meal pick up now through summer 2020.
You can find a site near you by visiting your local school district’s website, texting ‘food’ to 877-877, or visiting mcgi.state.mi.us/schoolnutrition. Once you’ve located a site, visit the food distribution site during their operating hours, report how many children you serve, and they will provide meals. No additional documentation is necessary. Food is suitable for children who eat solid food. Formula and food for infants is generally not available.
Reminder: If you are a CACFP provider, you may not charge CACFP for meals you did not purchase.