Kindergarten food: how much control parents have?

Laura Knechtel thinks life is twice as much fun with kids, which is why she enjoys every second with her godchildren and nieces to the fullest. A kindergarten teacher has lost her way – at least that’s what she keeps hearing from parents. When she is not writing with heart and soul for moms and wives, you can find her on her yoga mat or on Fehmarn at the windsurfing spot.

A healthy and balanced diet is especially important for children. After all, they need lots of energy to grow, and proverbial good "food" for the brain. Many parents therefore like to keep an eye on what their little ones eat every day. But is that possible even in the kindergarten?

When mini Dickmanns are provided for the little ones at a party at the daycare center or you overhear that the supposedly healthy juices at the childminder’s are full of sugar, alarm bells start ringing in your ears? That’s why you would always like to pack your child a lunch box before you take him or her to kindergarten, daycare, or daycare provider?

Annoying eco-mom?

Even if you feel "like an annoying eco-mom" when you insist on a sugar-free diet and balance in the menu for your child, your intentions are understandable and completely justified. Still, sometimes even moms with the best intentions have their hands tied.

Because by signing the contract, you agree to all the rules and practices of the daycare facility. In most cases, regulations regarding meals are laid down in the contract.

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

Guidelines for kindergarten meals

The German Society for Nutrition e.V. (DGE) published a quality standard for catering in daycare facilities for children in 2009. This was created in connection with "FIT KID: Healthy Eating Campaign for Daycare Centers", a project of the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. This includes the following points of reference:

  • Beverages:
    "Drinking or mineral water is best, as well as unsweetened
    Fruit and herbal teas available for free consumption. Lemonades, nectars, fruit juice drinks, iced teas, energy drinks and isotonic sports drinks are not offered in daycare facilities."
  • Breakfast:
    Here, the quality standard advises that parents and educators consult with each other. 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 the diet. Meat does not necessarily have to be on the table every day.
  • Lunch:
    There should also be a balanced offer at lunchtime: "This usually consists of several components. This includes a daily supply 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 pastries made from wholemeal flour. Nevertheless, certain rules should apply at a daycare center:
  • "No sweets in the bread box."
  • "Sweets do not serve as a snack between meals. This also applies to the so-called ‘children’s foods’."This refers to foods that are advertised as being especially for children and therefore contain extra milk, for example. Often true sugar bombs are hidden behind them.
  • Sweets are only allowed on special occasions"."This means birthday parties, summer parties, holidays and the like. Here, the educators should work together with the parents’ council or the parents’ association. Parents vote once and commit to fixed "rules. In any case, it is the responsibility of the institution to communicate such rules to the parents.

Seek open discussion

So if you have concerns about the food in your child’s daycare center, it’s best to talk openly with the people in charge. You can orientate yourself to the quality standard of the DGE as a help to this.

As already mentioned, you have a legal right to have a say in such matters. However: "Parents cannot claim or legally force changes," as legal counsel Burkhard Buhre told the site explains.

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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