Homestar and Nutrition
At Homestar, we recognize the huge role that a healthy relationship to food can play in a person’s life as they progress from infant to adult. Food is the chemical foundation for life long health, and nutrition and positive eating habits support a child’s mental, physical, social, and emotional development. To help the children achieve this goal, Homestar focuses on providing organic, homemade whole foods that are suitable for each child, serving the foods in a welcoming and peaceful setting, sharing with the children in rituals expressing gratitude, and as they grow, teaching them about gardening, cooking, food sources, their bodies, and what happens to the food after it is swallowed.
Walking into Homestar, the first thing you will notice is the smell of bread in the oven or stew on the stove. Each meal at Homestar is prepared in the school by a full-time cook who manages the purchasing, storage, and preparation of all foods. A Homestar meal consists of organic produce, organic whole grains, age appropriate spices and herbs, time and love. A child grows quickly… the building blocks of their bodies should be as pure and strong as possible. Only organic fresh food provides that raw material for their growth that they deserve. For that reason, Homestar invests a tremendous amount of time and energy to ensure that high-quality foods are always provided.
Special Dietary Needs
Though Homestar seeks to make each meal as nutritious and tasty as possible, no single type of diet is appropriate for all children. We understand that some children have sensitivities to certain foods, that some families choose to be vegetarian or vegan, or that some foods are not appropriate until later in that child’s development. We do our best to accommodate families by making individually-tailored, diet-appropriate meals when possible. Even for children who have no special dietary needs, we encourage open lines of communication with parents about each child’s eating habits and responses to the new foods they encounter as they grow. Homestar seeks to help children eat the healthiest foods possible while remaining aware that each child is an individual with unique needs.
Too often in the rushed pace of life that many of us endure today, meals are shoved between meetings or errands. Yet even for those who have nearly forgotten what a sit-down meal feels like, there is still a sense that peaceful time spent around the dinner table is of great value. To ensure that children develop a positive relationship to food and the act of eating, we maintain a ritual around meal-time that helps to foster an appreciation for the complete activity of feeding oneself. Children sit around the table and settle themselves into the quiet space there. They sing a song giving thanks for the food provided to us from the earth. Older children learn to serve each other during meal-time and to wait until everyone has their meal; the younger ones learn patience while everyone is served food in turn. While eating, the class learns to enjoy spending time at the table much as a family would; enjoying each other’s company, talking, and taking some time to be together for the communal experience of eating. When they are finished eating, the children bring their bowls to be cleaned and maintain the quiet atmosphere. This approach to meal time helps the children learn to be more present in the entire experience of eating, from the taste and texture to the pleasant atmosphere of a meal table with its conversation and quieting effects.
Farm to ECE
Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) is a nutrition education program that aims to give children, ages 6 months to 5 years, the opportunity to learn about healthy, local foods through:
- Cooking activities
- Taste tests
- Field trips
- Farmer visits
- Meals and snacks
- Nutrition lessons
Farm to ECE is different from other nutrition education curriculums because it teaches children where food comes from and how it is grown. When children help to grow or prepare fruits and vegetables, they’re more willing to try them!
Farm to ECE Goals
- To increase access to nutritious food and experiential opportunities in an effort to grow healthy children.
- To positively influence the eating habits of young children while their food preferences are forming.