Day Care Meal Provider Serves Up Nutrition and Education

Quality Catering for Kids Launches Lesson Plans Tied to Menus

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwire - August 20, 2008) - A hot lunch is more than just good food for children at hundreds of day care centers and schools in Wisconsin and Illinois; it's also an education in nutrition.

The education comes from daily lesson plans that accompany meals prepared by Quality Catering for Kids, which each day delivers more than 14,000 hot, nutritious lunches to childcare centers and schools in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, said Jim Scharnell, president of Quality Catering for Kids.

"The lesson plans are fun adventure stories designed to complement the meals that are served daily," Scharnell said. "The goal is to educate children about a balanced diet and the value of all the food groups in a way that they can relate to. The plans are designed to encourage healthful choices not only now but also throughout their lives."

Each day's meal has at least one food item that is a good example of the nutritional value the lesson plan is describing, he said. "The meals really are now part of the early education program."

As a way to reinforce the message, children are encouraged to complete simple "homework" assignments each week. The worksheets have simple tasks such as looking in the refrigerator or freezer for broccoli or other vegetables and talking to parents about the nutritional value of those items.

"Our hope is that this will make it easy for kids and parents to learn sound nutrition via the stories and the homework," Scharnell said. "Good nutrition is extremely important for young children, but existing lunch programs often don't provide the essentials," he added. "And sack lunches from home also usually lack the nutrition a child needs for lunch."

The lessons plans and take-home worksheets are a hit for children at Guardian Angel Learning Center on Milwaukee's east side, said Sr. Mary Louise Balistrieri of the center.

"We see the lessons plans as added value to the lunches," she said. "It's a good addition to the service. And the children really enjoy the lessons and the take-home worksheets; it's going over very well."

The nutrition plans complement the nurturing that childcare centers and pre-schools provide, said Nancy Lambert, a Wisconsin Dietetic Technician, Registered, who reviews all menu items to assure each meal meets nutrition and growth guidelines.

"Quality nutritious food choices are the gift a caregiver provides to encourage optimal growth and development of a child," Lambert said.

The lessons plans are provided at no additional cost to day care centers that receive hot lunches from Quality Catering for Kids. An early childhood education teacher with a master's degree in professional education writes the lesson plans, and notes that "early education is the key" in teaching about nutrition and healthy eating habits.

"We're doing this at no cost to the childcare centers because we believe so strongly in the need for proper nutrition," Scharnell said, adding that the program is unique. "I know of no other meal provider that offers a nutrition education along with the meal service," he said.

Quality Catering for Kids prepares meals in a unique USDA-approved commissary in Lake Villa, Ill. Along with selecting foods that are nutritious, Quality Catering for Kids uses food preparation processes that retain nutritional value.

Specially outfitted trucks deliver the hot meals each day, so customers only have to open the heat-retaining carriers and portion out servings.

Because of its experience and volume, Quality Catering for Kids is able to provide nutritious hot lunches at highly competitive price and usually for less than the cost of a sack lunch.

Along with its Lake Villa commissary and offices, the company has an office in suburban Milwaukee that serves Wisconsin childcare centers and schools.

Contact Information: Jim Scharnell president Quality Catering for Kids 1-888-356-7513