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how to deal with lunch boxes....


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we have just started to offer lunch hours at our pack away preschool, my question is....do we offer the children their lunch boxes to eat from or do we serve them there sandwiches and then crisps ect on plates? some of the children come into school with so much food in the bags that there is no way they could help themselves to it! one of our staff members thinks that we should let them help themselves to what ever they want to eat in what ever order they want it...I can imagine some of the parents would not be too keen on this idea! I have one or two that can't feed themselves properly and they are almost 3! the mess they make with cheese dippers is horrendous and bananas are reduced to mush and not actually eaten.....I understand the concept of letting them have what they want but does this work in reality? maybe its me, but I am old fashioned but like children to be able to eat without the horrendous mess! are we doing it right or wrong? we try to have at least one member of staff sat at the table with the children to model behavior and it does help. Can anyone shed light on what ofsted will be looking for at lunch times? thanks .

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all i can do is tell you how we do it...up to you what you do :P

We have a member of staff at the table (usually having their lunch!)

We decant the main course (sandwiches etc) on to plates, we provide cups for drinks and the table is set with cloths and flowers.

When they have eaten that then they get the next course etc. we will talk about healthy options and what they like etc we negotiate on what they eat and put uneaten back in the box to take home. We will heat up food if needed but have a thermometer to ensure this is done correctly Children wash their hands before and after. They were pretty awful with messy stuff at the beginning of term but getting better ^_^

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Hi twinthing , i had your thought originally re- putting sandwiches onto plates but for several reasons we decided not to

  • meant more washing up and work for staff - our lunch club finished at 1pm - staff get paid to 1.15pm and we sit and have our lunch with the children
  • it would take away the esperience for the children especially the younger ones and the excitement of having their own lunchboxes -
  • gives us the opportunity to discuss our lunchbox contents and allow the children with guidance to make decisions on how to eat their lunch
  • we introduce a few guidelines as follows
  • children are to eat sandwiches first - they take them out and then put lunch box on floor
  • fruit or yoghurt next
  • crisps and then cake or chocolate if they have it last
  • we supply fresh drinking water as we found many had cartons that were not finished and wasted
  • if a child has no fruit - we put a note in lunchbox from the child asking for fruit or veg please

the children have adapted well to this routine - we talk about healthy eating and how our brains love water as it makes them better

 

Hope this is of some help

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we don't reheat food as food hygiene says you can may not know how many times it may have been reheated before

 

we also let parents know if their child does not really enjoy something and encourage parents to get their children to help prepare their lunchbox.

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We do exactly the same as Finleysmaid. (Finlesymaid, I think I have typed that before, we must think along the same lines!!)

I think it is much nicer for children to use plates and cups etc rather than eating out of lunch boxes and using water bottles. It gives far more opportunity to help children develop good table manners and social skills.

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the other point raised is your children who have difficulty with some skills will not get better if the opportunity id not there for them to improve and learn skills - also children should be allowed to play with food within reason ( it helps with food phobias) - reminds me of one girl who put her ham against her nostrils sniffed and it stuck too her nose - must admit we all found it funny :wub:

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and we did it very differently..a staff member did sit with them eating lunch at the same time.. but they had their lunch boxes on the table and all wrappers, remains, leftovers or whatever they did not eat was returned in them..we did ask them to eat some of the savoury first.. before moving on to other stuff.. but did not have a strict policy on this.. we found once one was doing it the others seemed to follow.. the one thing we did say was no nuts or peanut butter .. if they were used to it there was no issue when/if someone had an allergy..

 

no reheating of food at all

 

and we did it this way to allow the children to learn how to manage a lunch box, open packets containers etc.. and they liked it as it was like a daily picnic for them.

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haha funny how everyone does it their way...i don't think there is anything wrong with any of these answers ...you just have to go with what is right for your setting and children.

we used to do it like lashes but have changed since doing full day care to make it more appropraite for the group we have. We will reheat food above 65 degrees and then let cool down a bit to be ready for the children. We have only just added this service because we were being asked to give hot food in this cold weather (and we are a free flow setting so some need it) i do not reheat rice under any circumstances.

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each of our children has their own tray (cheap from poundland but you could ask parents to provide one for their child), they put their savoury food on the tray and sit at the tabel, when they ahve finished a member of staff gives them their lunchbox so that they can choose something else to eat. All rubbish and leftover food goes home and the trays are washed up at the end of the day (or earlier if the day is quiet)

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Ours eat from lunchboxes. They soon learn to eat sandwiches, savoury, fruit and yogurt in that order(more or less). We have 1 staff member sitting at each table. Children put all uneaten food back in lunch boxes and clear up after themselves using dustpan and brush and wipes. Children do not bring their own drinks they pour out water or milk. They soon get the hang of everything. They don't stay untill they are 3 so they are very capable. We give the tables a wipe before and after. Peanut butter not allowed either.

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We have very similar routines to the above really, except all my staff sit with the children around one huge table (there will be 5 adults tomorrow as we do our planning afterwards), and we try as best we can to ask the children to stay at the table until the majority of children finish their lunch - some children bring enough to feed an army (generally, parents who like them to have a wide choice, rather than expecting them to eat it all), others hardly anything at all and some incredibly sloooooooow eaters. Those who finish early on can choose a book and either look at it themselves at the table or an adult there will read it to them. When majority are finished they may leave the table to do quiet activities (but can get a little boisterous after the "sugar" rush) but we keep an eye on that. We then have our home time routine, finishing at 1.15.

 

We have run lunch club for so many years it's a nice time of the day, lots of lovely conversations around the table and generally, I find table manners are very good, ours start at 3 years old unless they have an older sibling with us when they would start younger. You do see some oddities though, currently we have one little boy who dips things such as quavers into his fromage frais, I have also seen him very deftly scoop out the fromage frais with his spoon and put it onto his cheese biscuit!

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haha funny how everyone does it their way...i don't think there is anything wrong with any of these answers ...you just have to go with what is right for your setting and children.

we used to do it like lashes but have changed since doing full day care to make it more appropraite for the group we have. We will reheat food above 65 degrees and then let cool down a bit to be ready for the children. We have only just added this service because we were being asked to give hot food in this cold weather (and we are a free flow setting so some need it) i do not reheat rice under any circumstances.

Finsleymaid just a word of caution with regard to reheating meals - your environmental health officer may not be happy with this as you can only go by parents being honest with you regarding how it has been managed before it arrives with you

we are introducing hot meals option from our local primary ( just across the road ) to help them and our parents and us - feedback I have had has been postive in providing this option and parents are happy to pay an extra £2.10 too, especially on our long day .

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Finsleymaid just a word of caution with regard to reheating meals - your environmental health officer may not be happy with this as you can only go by parents being honest with you regarding how it has been managed before it arrives with you

we are introducing hot meals option from our local primary ( just across the road ) to help them and our parents and us - feedback I have had has been postive in providing this option and parents are happy to pay an extra £2.10 too, especially on our long day .

humm i'd asked him about this and he wasn't worried but maybe i'll fire off another email and see what they say. What happens with babies and reheating meals ? do childminders always cook for them or do families supply?

I sometimes have to supply food for parents who forget...for these i keep tins in the cupboard, not ideal really but either that or they starve!

I seem to have 2 children at the mo who just don't like cold food so if the eho says no then i'll have to have a rethink :(

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So what will happen to the children who dont like cold food when they go to school? Primary schools in our borough dont do lunches, so these children would only have a packed lunch. We have a couple of children who currently bring 'hot' food in thermal containers- the food is still warm enough to eat when they have it. The only thing I dont do for one of them who goes onto another setting after us is put leftovers back in the flask as I'm not sure if she would be given it to eat later.

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Well if school can't do hot food then they will have to put up with it i guess....but i'm not sure that a good reason to stop them now! Actually we discussed thermos flasks but we were more worried about these because the food is held at a temperature that would be dangerous. If we heat up we are heating above the 65 degree threshold

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humm i'd asked him about this and he wasn't worried but maybe i'll fire off another email and see what they say. What happens with babies and reheating meals ? do childminders always cook for them or do families supply?

I sometimes have to supply food for parents who forget...for these i keep tins in the cupboard, not ideal really but either that or they starve!

I seem to have 2 children at the mo who just don't like cold food so if the eho says no then i'll have to have a rethink :(

 

As a childminder I often reheat food, especially for babies. I considered the risks regarding food being contaminated and decided that they were small enough and the benefits to the child were great enough to make them acceptable.

 

I can show that the food is kept sufficiently cold while stored in my fridge and heated thoroughly before I give it to the child. If a parent sent food which had been previously reheated and the child became ill they would have to show that I had stored or prepared the food inappropriately in order for me to be liable. The chances of that happening are slim enough for me not to be concerned.

 

I allow children to manage their own lunch boxes as early as possible. Some don't eat in what we might perceive as the 'right order' but as long as the meal itself is reasonably well balanced I don't personally have a problem with that. If a parent persistently sends a large amount of sweet food I might remove some from the lunchbox before offering it to the child and send it home with a suggestion that it's replaced with some more savoury options in the future. That is a last report as parent generally learn that if they send too many yummy treats some of the healthier food may come home untouched.

 

I'd rather children were making their own choices from the selection sent by their parents and that they are able to explore smells and textures fully in ways they are not always allowed to do at home.

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i have to say, i have staff, one in particular, who are obssessed with the order the children eat in. I really cant see that it matters, as long as they are eating and for those that aren't staying all day then they're laving 5 minutes after we pack lunches up anyway. I really cannot see that it matters that snack/crisps are eaten alongside their sandwiches or that a sausage roll or babybel is eaten before the sandwich. It really seems to bother this staff member though, today I watched her say no to openong a childs cheese strings as they eaten their sandwich yet. Very odd and I must speak to her about it

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We used to let children eat from lunch boxes...have now changed to offering savoury items on plates first because this is more like they would do at home - parents dont normally pile all their food (and some do send huge amounts!) in front of them and let them eat whatever they like. Most will offer a savoury selection on a plate...and then something sweet.

 

Although at school they will have boxes we are not school, not all the children will be going to school yet - some not for a couple of years!

We have the staff to make it more home like so felt this would be a good change and it has worked really well - children actually eat more of their food than before because they are not tempted by other items on view..before this they tended to open one thing, have a few bites then stop and open another - and they didnt go back to it afterwards.

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I am not to worried about what order I give the food and often put cheese or a savory snack out with the sandwich....and after a messy lunch session yesterday, wonder if yoghurt in tubes is such a good idea! lol thanks again every one for you replies x

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Cheese strings, yoghurts in tubes or strawberry shapes that spit at you when you remove the top and babybel for the same reasons as above. I loathe them all and if I was a food minister would ban them all!!

I have a staff member who says she would like to do unspeakable things to a certain Mr Frube (we're sure it was a man who invented them!!) Do you know if you twist the yoghurt tubes very hard two or three times it will then explode not over the child that is twisting but the 3 or 4 children sitting at the table behind or in front of him- covering them in yoghurt. You would not believe how little yoghurt can cover so many children & tables and floor!! Guess how I know this????

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