Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Nutrition Policy and Recent Weekly Menu

Healthy habits established in young children can last a lifetime, and every child deserves the chance to grow up to be strong and healthy. There is much you can do to help make that happen for the children in your program.

Some or all of the children in your program may eat meals with you. So, you can help them and their families understand the importance of eating healthy, nutritious foods. Your nutrition policy and weekly menu are two ways to communicate the importance of proper nutrition for healthy growth and development.

toddler eating an apple
Nutritious Can Be Delicious

This section helps you describe how you plan the meals and snacks served in your program, as well as how you communicate nutrition policies and information to families. To meet the requirements for Administrative Policies and Practices: Nutritious Meals and Snacks: ADM 4.3, you will submit a nutrition policy and a weekly menu.

Select the Requirements tab to learn about required documentation, including key components to include in your program’s nutrition policy and menu plan.

Requirements

The following interactive shows you the requirements for Administrative Policies and Practices: Nutritious Meals and Snacks: ADM 4.3. Key requirements are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot for information about what to include in your documentation.

Select the option that applies to your program type:

 

Child Care Center
ADM 4.3: Nutritious Meals and Snacks Program provides fresh fruits and / or vegetables at least twice a week, and monitors meals provided from home and supplements as necessary to ensure that children are receiving nutritious, balanced meals and snacks. Documentation to submit: Nutrition Policy and Recent Weekly Menu

Family Child Care
ADM 4.3: Nutritious Meals and Snacks Program provides fresh fruits and / or vegetables at least twice a week, and monitors meals provided from home and supplements as necessary to ensure that children are receiving nutritious, balanced meals and snacks. Documentation to submit: Nutrition Policy and Recent Weekly Menu

School-Age Only
ADM 4.3: Nutritious Meals and Snacks Program provides fresh fruits and / or vegetables at least twice a week, and monitors meals provided from home and supplements as necessary to ensure that children are receiving nutritious, balanced meals and snacks. Documentation to submit: Nutrition Policy and Recent Weekly Menu

 

Instructions

To meet the requirements for Administrative Policies and Practices: Nutritious Meals and Snacks: ADM 4.3, you will upload:

  • A nutrition policy explaining that your program:
    • Monitors food from home
    • Supplements when necessary
  • A weekly menu served within the past month, documenting that fresh fruits and vegetables are served at least two times per week

If you do not serve food or snacks, or you do not allow “outside” food in your program, you may leave a comment for your Program Coordinator. A nutrition policy is still required.

The Policy or Statement Builder provides a step-by-step guide for creating policies for your staff.






Nutrition Policy

A nutrition policy communicates to families the importance of healthy meals and snacks and all that your program does to promote healthy eating habits. There are several benefits to a nutrition policy, including:

  • Communicating care and respect for children’s health and development
  • Following best practices regarding the children’s health and nutrition
  • Outlining a clear plan and guidelines for staff and families to follow related to quality nutrition care
  • Promoting consistency related to food and nutrition between your program and home settings

Nutrition policies you should consider:

  • Meals, snacks, and foods your program provides
  • Expectation about the meals, snacks, and foods families need to provide
  • Guidelines and ways your program limits fatty, sugary, and salty foods
  • How your program manages food allergies or other dietary restrictions
  • Food brought from home for birthdays and other celebrations
  • Acceptable and unacceptable (example: candy, soda) food items
  • How your program handles unacceptable food items
  • Other food policies that are relevant to your program and the children enrolled
 

What does the documentation look like?

Your nutrition policy clearly explains how your program ensures that children provided with a healthy, well-balanced diet. This includes how you monitor, and supplement as needed, the food families provide.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

Based on your program’s written food and nutrition policy, families and staff have a clear understanding of the kinds of foods served in your program, as well as foods that are unacceptable. In addition, families and staff should be able to describe how your program handles nutrition and meal planning, including monitoring food brought from home and supplementing with additional food when necessary.

 

Where can you learn more?

View this sample nutrition policy for ideas of what to include in your own policy. Notice information that is especially beneficial to families.

Sample Nutrition Policy

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Policy or Statement Builder

This interactive helps you describe your program's nutrition policies and practices. You have the option of emailing your responses to yourself and editing your final policy before uploading it to the Maryland EXCELS System. You are encouraged to type your responses in full sentences to make it easier to edit your final policy.

 

Build-A-Policy: Nutrition Policy

Final Touches

Check your documentation as you prepare to upload it to the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Check to be sure your documentation includes:

Your program’s policies and practices for:

 
  • Meals/Snacks provided by families are monitored
  • Meals/Snacks provided by families are supplemented, as necessary
 
  • Fresh fruits, and vegetables served at least two times a week.
 

Save your document:

  • Use a file names that you can find easily when you upload it to the system. (examples: nutritious-meals.docx; weekly-menu.docx)
  • Use any one of these formats:
    • Typed electronic version (examples: Microsoft Word, PDF)
    • Scanned version (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)
    • Digital image / picture (examples: JPG, PNG, PDF)
    • Identified section within a handbook

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your documentation, look ahead, and think about a plan for ongoing improvement.

 

Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Document

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate where you saved your documentation regarding nutrition and menu planning on the computer.
 

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

If your program serves whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables at least three times per week and you work to limit children’s intake of fat, sugar, and salt, you may meet the requirements for Administrative Policies and Practices: Nutritious Meals and Snacks: ADM 4.4.

Plan for Improvement

Review the types of food your program serves and consider the amount of fat, salt, and sugar included in those foods. Make a plan to adjust any food items to provide additional healthy choices. Consider ways you can encourage families to partner with you to provide healthy foods for their children and ensure that they receive consistent messages in both settings.

 

Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (ADM 4.3)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your weekly menu plan and nutrition policy.

Remember, if you do not serve your own foods/snacks, or you do not allow “outside” food in your program, you may leave a comment for your Program Coordinator. You are still required to provide a policy that meets the remaining requirements.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation