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Family Style Meals


Family Style Meals are designed to promote the physical, social and emotional development of children, to increase knowledge about healthy eating and to assist children to make good decisions.


  1. Children are involved in meal related activities which provide opportunities for decision making, communication, sharing, fine motor and eye-hand coordination (setting tables, preparing food, carrying trays, rinsing plates, etc)
  2. Every child will receive a quantity of food in meals and snacks which follows the CACFP USDA Meal Pattern Requirements.
  3. All children in the morning program s who have not received breakfast at the time they arrive will be served a nourishing breakfast per the  Breakfast Policy.
  4. All tables, chairs and eating utensils will be age appropriate.
  5. In order to ensure good appetites and a relaxing mealtime environment, calming transitional activities will occur before meals.
  6. Food will not be used as punishment of reward and children are encouraged, but not forced or coerced to eat or taste.
  7. Teachers will have children start with the minimum  CACFP USDA Meal Pattern required portions and allow for additional portions as the child desires.
  8. All staff, visitors and children will follow proper  hand washing procedures just prior to setting tables and meal service.
  9. Classroom staff designates one to three children to help set the tables as appropriate in each classroom.  Home Based children are offered opportunities for table setting as appropriate.
  10. Use of paper and disposable meal service products is limited to meals when the Cooks are absent or equipment is broken with the approval of site supervisor.
    1. Napkins should be available at every meal for a child to use to wipe their face
    2. Disposables may be used on the last day of the week for afternoon snack to facilitate additional time for weekend cleaning and sanitizing.
    3. Exception of collaborative sites, disposables may be used when there are no other options for dish washing.
  11. Utensils
    1.  Spoon and fork need to be available for the children at lunchtime to allow for children to choose which is most comfortable to them.
    2.  3 to 5 year old’s only will introduce the use of knives during breakfast, lunch and snacks in the beginning months of school.
    3.  Daily use of knives at lunch time will start January 1 of the school year.
  12. A variety of food is served to broaden each child’s food experience.
  13. When the majority of the children are finished, they are allowed to be excused. Staff continue to supervise children needing more time.
  14. Each child is responsible for clearing their table setting area which includes cleaning up spills on the table and the floor.
  15. Conversations at the table must be age appropriate and child driven.
  16. When possible, Family Style Meals are encouraged at Collaborative Sites.


Forms and Additional Guidance:

This policy complies with the following

Head Start Program Performance Standard:    1302.31 (e)(2); 1302.44
ODJFS Child Care Manual:    5101:2-12-22
CACFP Regulation:    Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act of 2010
Caring for Our Children:    
Other Sources:    


Effective Date:   8/7/17 Reviewed Date:   9/30/20, 6/17/22
Approved By Policy Council:   8/7/17 Revision Approved By Policy Council:    
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