Sending your preschooler off to school for the first time can feel a bit daunting. New rules, new friends, new teachers. As a parent it can often be harder than what your child is feeling!
Walking into the Moosic Center, one of the many sites of Scranton Lackawanna Head Start system, a feeling of family is present. The teachers, Lori Cunard and Marlin Petro-Wesnak, welcome you with open arms. There are parents who are actively involved with all of the children and it’s obvious that their participation is nothing out of the ordinary.
There are so many reasons why this site is an outstanding example of how Head Start works, from PBIS to their parent involvement, and their nutrition department is one of them.
I was welcomed into their kitchen by Ann McKenna MS RDN LDN CFCS, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist that creates the menus and oversees the cooks in the program. Ann has been with the program nearly 3 decades and has been leading the charge of creating healthier delicious menus for the students.
Ann generously shared the menu she created with us, sharing some of her trade secrets about creating a balanced menu.
“The key is to find fresh fruits that may be more expensive, but mixing them with more affordable fruits.”
As you can see in the menu, fruits like kiwi and mangos are features along side pears and mandarin oranges. Ann shares that finding the balance between staying within the food budget and offering healthy foods, despite being difficult at times, is paramount.
“There is no option for healthy food. When Head Start began, bringing healthy foods into children’s lives was one of their goals. We can’t stop that because the price of the food. This is our job to introduce new foods. We make it work because it’s important.”
Ann also ensures that there are options for the children. She understands the cultures of the families and will often try to incorporate food items that the children see at home, mixed with new ingredients. Offering pierogis with broccoli or cheese and hummus with whole grain crackers means the exposure to new foods becomes common place.
Ann has graciously shared her menus with us here: EHS Winter Menu 2019-2020, and offered to connect to share ideas with those interested. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more!