The children will bring their own lunches (served between 12 noon and 1 pm) and the Center will provide milk. Whole milk is served to the Busy Bees and 2% milk is served to the Buttercups and Koalas. The Center will offer two snacks per day (served at approximately 9:30am and 3:45pm) that follow USDA guidelines. All lunches should be packed (at home) with an ice pack inside if the contents need to be kept cold, and placed in the designated bins in each classroom. Families are asked to send non-disposable forks and/or spoons for their child/ren to eat with. Families are permitted to send lunches in plastic, tempered glass, or ceramic microwave-safe containers. 

Staff and children must wash hands before preparing and eating food. Any food or beverage hotter than 110 degrees Fahrenheit should be kept out of children’s reach. Thermometers can be found in each kitchen to check the temperature after it comes out of the microwave oven and again, if necessary, before served to children.

Staff members sit with the children at their tables for lunch and snacks to encourage conversation and good eating habits. Mealtime should be a relaxed and pleasant affair. 

Family Style Dining at Hoya Kids Learning Center 

One staff member needs to disinfect tables and then supervise table setting while children and adults wash their hands. Staff members handling food must always wear food gloves. Make sure utensils, dishes, pitchers, etc., used by children are the appropriate size.

Children need to pass the food and serve themselves (snack), if appropriate, and pour their drinks, with help if necessary. One staff member must sit with the children in order to offer any necessary assistance and facilitate conversation.

Remember that children should participate in clean up, also. They can put their dishes back in their lunch boxes and/or put their trash in the covered can. They can help wash the tables and push chairs underneath. They can also put their lunch boxes away.

Children need to wash their hands after participating in family-style dining.

Do’s and Don’ts at Snack and Meal Time


  • Make mealtime an opportunity for learning.
  • Encourage children to identify and enjoy a wide variety of new foods, new tastes and new dishes.
  • Teachers and adults should always sit at the table with the children.
  • Teachers and adults should speak positively about the food being served or brought by the children. For example, “Isn’t the spinach a pretty, dark green color?”
  • Always allow the children to socialize while they eat. Mealtime should be a happy time where children share and socialize in a group situation.
  • Tables should always be clean and sanitized before and after meals.
  • Teachers and adults should assist or feed a child only if a child is unable to feed themselves.
  • Show and teach children the proper use of eating utensils.
  • Always have children wash their hands before and after meals and after using the restroom.
  • Show children what is expected of them. For example, using a fork and/or spoon, putting a chair close enough to the table so they can reach their food, asking politely (with “friendly words”) for more snacks, etc.
  • Show and tell children that “We sit while we eat.”  Also make sure children chew and swallow all of their food before getting up from their chairs.
  • Do let administrative staff members know other snacks your group would like to try.


  • Don’t use food as a means of punishment. Don’t say, “If you don’t drink your milk, you will not get dessert.”  Never withhold food from a child.
  • Don’t pass your dislikes about certain foods onto the child. For example, you may not like liver, but never let the children know you don’t like it. Give the child a reasonable excuse for not eating it.
  • Don’t stop children from occasionally eating with their hands.
  • Don’t allow children to eat out of each other’s plate.
  • Don’t allow children to trade foods they have handled.
  • Don’t send a child away from the table because of “bad manners”.
  • Don’t rush a child to begin or finish eating. Gently coax/encourage a child to eat.

Children should be encouraged to taste everything but not forced to eat anything. They need only to eat what they like and in no special order. Never withhold food for any reason from any child. Encourage children to clean and wipe up after themselves. Children thrive on praise and a simple “thank you for throwing your napkin away” will positively reinforce that behavior – as well as making the child feel capable and important. Be sure tables, chairs, and floors are clean after eating.

Foods that present the most common choking hazards for children (especially under the age of 4) are:

  • Hot dogs – unless cut lengthwise, and then sliced in small pieces
  • Nuts (not permitted at HKLC at all)
  • Seeds
  • Hard candies – (candy in general is also not permitted due to the lack of nutritional content)
  • Raw carrots – unless cut into thin strips
  • Raw peas
  • Hard pretzels
  • Large chunks of meat
  • Spoonfuls of peanut butter (not permitted at HKLC at all)
  • Popcorn
  • Whole grapes, cherries or other round, firm fruits
  • Hard, uncooked raisins

Staff members are not permitted to serve these items to any child in our care. If a parent does bring in such foods, please place them back in their lunch box with a polite note to the parent explaining why the food was not served. This list is not exhaustive, but represents some of the more common hazards.

It is the responsibility of the parents to notify the Center of any food allergies. (See section on Food Allergies and Nut-Free Policy, the complete Food Allergy policy in Appendix E, and the complete Nut-Free Policy in Appendix F.)  If a medical problem requires special dietary arrangements, the Director and staff are to be notified and provided with instructions from the child’s health care practitioner. Snack food may be brought from home for special diets, religious or medical reasons. We strongly discourage non-nutritious and “junk” foods.