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To: Local Officials, County Officials and Government
Changes to accommodate atypical children
There needs to be an alternative options for children in the Luzerne County Head Start Program. As of September 12,2023 when speaking with the nutrition specialist for the center it was brought to my attention that there were no options other than what is on their menu. Packed lunches are not allowed. No food or drink from home. No changes can be made to the menu unless a child has food allergy or religious reasons
Why is this important?
This is very concerning for many reasons. First and foremost the center serves breakfast and lunch is all day schooling. If a child doesn't eat the first option "breakfast" can be alternated with eating at home. However, the lunch that is provided, although healthy option may not be appealing to some children. So, if that child doesn't eat any of the lunch provided they now go without eating until the child returns home. Some of the concern would be that if the child doesn't eat many issues can arise from behavioral to physical. It also raises concern that children may not have any meals after school (due to the rise in poverty) so, this may just be the only meals they get to have. It is also concerning that a child that is on the spectrum, will have sensory aversions. A lot of these atypical children will resist "new" foods and will not try anything "new", some will have postural issues as well as anxiety and meltdowns because of these "new" foods being presented.
For an example my daughter is 4 years old, she attends the Luzerne County Head Start program, they do provide breakfast and lunch. Breakfast usually consists of a grain, fruit and dairy. Lunch consists of protein, starch, vegetable, grain and dairy. Now, my the problem with that is these meals are something that you would see in a nursing home not in a child's school. In explaining what I mean, Breakfast on Sept 13th will consist of mini bagel, pineapple tidbits, grape jelly and 6oz 1% milk. Lunch will consist of Beef Pot Pie (1 cup) carrot slices (1/4 cup) applesauce (1/4 cup) biscuits and 6oz 1% milk. My daughter will not foods that touch. So, beef pot pie is definitely out (I don't believe that any child will eat this) with carrot slices (try to visualize 1/4 cup- I will say maybe if they are lucky it might be 5 slices)my daughter won't even look at them, next up is applesauce (once again visualize 1/4 cup-I will say maybe 3/4 spoonful) my daughter will eat this. Biscuits now this is common with kiddos however someone who has aversion will not touch it if it the wrong texture. Lastly is 6 oz 1% milk. So, in seeing this menu my daughter will have eaten the applesauce also drank milk at breakfast and lunch. Do you see the problem being at school for almost 6 hours? There should be an alternate. This can be done in still following the my plate. A breakfast alternate can be something as simple as blueberry wheat pancake, sugar free syrup, yogurt and milk. An alternate lunch could be a peanut butter (alternate to keep it nut free) and jelly sandwich on wheat bread, carrot/green beans/corn, cheese sticks and milk. There can also be an alternate of potato and cheese pierogi, carrot sticks, yogurt and Milk. Even cauliflower pizza is a good option. They just need to have an alternate option for our younger children so they are not going without eating.