Adobo chicken. Chicken alfredo from scratch. Homemade cream of mushroom soup. Breakfast frittatas. Fresh baked croissants. Mmmmmm….!
Are these menu items from a five-star restaurant? Nope! They’re breakfasts and lunches at United Inner City Services (UICS)! (If you aren’t hungry, you will be by time you finish reading!)
Students at every UICS center receive healthy breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon snacks made by in-house nutrition staff and culinary artists. These meals are prepared with the nutritional needs for early childhood development top of mind and are served in the classroom each school day.
Students enrolled at UICS are at an age where a nutrient-dense diet is necessary to support their physical and behavioral development.
Without the right nutrients, toddlers and preschoolers might struggle to develop the skills necessary to maintain concentration, which becomes increasingly important as they get older. The research is endless: fish, broccoli, and berries are just a few foods shown to improve cognitive functions and memory. Conversely, ‘anti-nutrients’ such as refined sugar, bad fats, and additives can negatively affect a child’s mind, even making them feel hazy and less focused.
As well as supporting their mental development, assuring that students receive the necessary nutrients through their meals is vital for physical development. Think of all the running, jumping, and playing children do each and every day. They must get the energy and strength to do all of that from somewhere: and it’s from the foods they eat!
This approach to nutrition helps to ensure that students not only have all the items needed for a healthy diet, but that they are able to build habits and awareness of food items to ensure long-term nutritional health.
Another benefit of UICS’ meals are the variety of foods made available for students to try and experience. Early childhood is a key developmental time in a child’s life, and if you’re a parent, I’m sure you know how picky some children can be at this age! By encouraging students to eat different foods and meals they may have never tried before, childrens’ palettes are expanded and further developed at an early age.
Mr. Roberto Diaz, UICS-Metro Center Director of Early Learning and Inclusion, believes that UICS’ approach to meals and nutrition is one of the many factors that sets UICS apart from other early childhood centers.
“Ms. May and Mr. Marco (UICS-Metro Center kitchen staff) make food that is tailored to the childrens’ interests and relevant to their life experiences. Meals at UICS feel like home, while other organizations and schools mass produce their meals for students, and that’s what makes the difference.”
The warmth and care for the children at UICS is embedded in the cooking and the food, as well as through their interactions with students at each center. Kitchen staff members personally deliver the trays of meals to the classrooms each day, so not only are students being nurtured through their daily meals, but they are able to build relationships with the staff who are preparing those meals on a regular basis.
In the end, Mr. Roberto says it best:
“I am very grateful that we have an on-site chef that is available to prepare fresh meals for our students each and every day!”