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Programs and Services » Head Start » Child Nutrition

Child Nutrition

The overall goal for the child nutrition services is to provide a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack for children while they are at school. The nutrition part of the program works in partnership with the local district to meet federal and state compliance regulations regarding the meal patterns and portions for young children.


Meal Time

Children practice fine motor skills and social skills during meal time. Teachers and assistants sit with the children during meals. They have comfortable conversation with the children about their food and activities of the day. Children have the opportunity to be exposed to variety of foods and are encouraged to try new foods.


Nutrition Training for Parents

The program has numerous online training modules regarding nutrition focused topics. These training modules can be accessed through the Parent Courses section of this website.


Nutrition Education For Families

The local Extension Agency provides nutrition classes as well as cooking activities to parents. The goal is to encourage nutritious eating that will develop into life-long habits. Families who are identified as having special health concerns related to nutrition receive counseling support and wellness education.

Facts & Highlights

  1. "Children's nutrition is no small issue," said child nutrition expert and registered dietitian JoAnn Hattner, spokesperson for The American Dietetic Association. "There is no better time than the early years to make an impact on the lifelong eating and exercise habits that contribute to health maintenance and disease prevention."
  2. American Dietary Association (ADA) has these suggestions for parents or caregivers:
    • Make family-centered changes toward healthful eating. Make mealtime pleasant. Plan, prepare and eat meals together.
    • Plan for family activities to promote an active lifestyle. As role models, join kids in active play, take walks or hike together as a weekend outing, ride bikes after dinner, or play a quick game of catch after work.
  3. The children participate in a 5-A-Day parade. Parents make their child's favorite food costume with poster boards, markers and other craft materials. Food Service staff provide a taste test of different fruits and vegetables for children to sample and provide a lesson on the importance in having 5-A-Day meal plan.
  4. According to the NASPE: Shape of Our Nation's Children Fact Sheet - More children in this country are overweight than ever before, about double the number who were heavy in the late 1970's. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show 13% of children ages 6-11 were overweight in 1999, up from 11% in 1988-1994 and 7% in the late 1970's.


Obesity-related diseases cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion every year. Inactivity and poor diet cause at least 300,000 deaths a year in the United States. Only tobacco causes more preventable deaths.
Fewer than one in four children get 20 minutes of vigorous activity every day of the week. Less than one in four reported getting at least half an hour of any type of physical activity every single day.


The following is a listing of the Dietary guidelines.

Adequate nutrients within calorie needs:
  • Overweight children. Reduce the rate of body weight gain while allowing growth and development. Consult a healthcare provider before placing a child on a weight-reduction diet.
  • Children and adolescents. Engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a reference 2,000 calorie intake, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.
  • Children and adolescents. Consume whole-grain products often; at least half the grains should be whole grains.
  • Children and adolescents. Keep total fat intake between 30-35 percent of calories for children 2-3 years of age and between 25-35 percent of calories for children and adolescents 4-18 years of age, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005
National Association for Sport & Physical Education
Center for Disease control and Prevention (CDC)

Tri-County Head Start Contacts:

Lisa Ochoa
Health, Dental & Nutrition Facilitator
(210) 370-5662
Bertha Salinas
Health, Dental & Nutrition Facilitator
(210) 370-5708


Bexar County Head Start Contacts:

Mary DeLeon
Health, Dental & Nutrition Facilitator
(210) 370-5648
Ernestine Ramos
Health, Dental & Nutrition Facilitator
(210) 370-5762
Laura Martinez
Health, Dental & Nutrition Facilitator
(210) 370-5685
Sandra Sandoval
Health, Dental & Nutrition Facilitator 
(210) 370-5649