Kindergarten Food: How Much Control Do Parents Have?

A healthy and balanced diet is particularly important for children. After all, they need a lot of energy to grow and literally good “food” for the brain. Many parents therefore like to keep an eye on what their little ones eat every day. But is that still possible in kindergarten?

When mini-Dickmanns are made available for the little ones at a party in the day care center or you happen to notice that the supposedly healthy juices at the childminder’s are full of sugar, do you get alarm bells ringing? Would you therefore like to always pack your child a lunch box before you take them to kindergarten, daycare or daycare?

Pesky eco mom?

Even if you feel “like a pesky eco-mom” when you insist on a sugar-free diet and a balanced diet for your child, your intentions are understandable and perfectly valid. Still, sometimes even mums with the best of intentions have their hands tied.

Because by signing the contract, you agree to all the rules and customs of the day care center. In most cases, rules for eating are laid down in it.

However, this can hardly be shaken after the conclusion of the contract. A bitter pill that you don’t have to swallow right away. After all, as a parent, according to Book VIII of the Social Code, you have a say in issues that affect your child’s day-care center, including the kindergarten meals.

Kindergarten Meal Guidelines

In 2009, the German Society for Nutrition eV (DGE) published a  quality standard for catering in day care centers for children . This was created in connection with “FIT KID: Healthy eating campaign for daycare centers”, a project of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. It includes the following points of reference:

  • Beverages: 
    “The best are drinking or mineral water as well as unsweetened
    fruit and herbal teas, which are freely available. Lemonades, nectars, fruit juice drinks, ice teas, energy drinks and isotonic sports drinks are not offered in day care facilities.”
  • Breakfast:
    The quality standard advises parents and educators to coordinate this with one another. In the best case, whole grain products or unsweetened muesli should be on the table. According to the DGE, fruit and vegetables as well as dairy products are just as important for nutrition. Meat does not necessarily have to be on the table every day.
  • Lunch:
    There should also be a balanced lunch menu: “It usually consists of several components. This includes a daily offer of raw vegetables, salad or cooked vegetables, a starch side dish and a drink.” Whole grain products, rice and potatoes are recommended.
  • Sweets: 
    “There is nothing wrong with a small amount of sweets,” says the standard work. In addition, there is nothing wrong with a wholesome sweet main meal, fruity desserts or baked goods made from wholemeal flour. Nevertheless, certain rules should apply in a day care center:

    • “No sweets in the bread box.”
    • “Sweets are not intended as a snack. This also applies to the so-called ‘kids’ food’.” This means foods that are advertised especially for children and therefore contain extra milk, for example. Real sugar bombs are often hidden behind them.
    • “Sweets are only allowed on special occasions.” This means birthday parties, summer festivals, holidays and the like. Here the educators should agree once with the parents’ council or parents and set fixed “rules”. In any case, it is the responsibility of the facility to communicate such rules to the parents.
  • Allergies:
    Any information about a child’s allergies or intolerances must be listed for all caregivers and responsible persons in the daycare.

Look for an open conversation

So if you have concerns about the food at your child’s daycare, it’s best to speak openly with those in charge. You can use the DGE’s quality standard as a guide.

As already mentioned, you have a legal right to have a say in such topics. However: “The parents cannot claim changes or legally enforce them,” as lawyer Burkhard Bühre explains to the site .

If you don’t know how to address a sensitive topic in kindergarten, here are six helpful tips for talking to educators.

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