Getting children to eat healthily isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of planning. Luckily, Maine has several resources designed to help parents and other adults strategically plan healthy meals. Whether you’re looking for menu guides, nutritional information, or state food and nutrition support, any of these organizations and initiatives may be able to help.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) — This federally funded program is administered by states to ensure that eligible children have access to nutritious, healthy meals. The CACFP serves adult day centers, child care centers, at-risk after school programs, emergency shelters, and family day care homes. Maine’s Child and Adult Care Food Program provides several useful links from the USDA to help both families and formal institutions meet nutrition guidelines. They also provide meal count worksheets, portion menus, and meal pattern guidelines.
Full Plates Potential – This initiative strives to solve childhood hunger in and around Maine. Their website has important food and nutrition resources, but their primary efforts are in advocating for child nutrition program grand opportunities, like school breakfast programs, summer food programs, and other community-based campaigns. They strongly believe – and have the data to back it up – that children benefit from regular, healthy meals, whether that means having breakfast in the classroom or providing nutritional education over the summer.
USDA Team Nutrition Resource Catalog – This online resource is designed to teach kids about nutrition, the benefits of being physically active, and why it is important to eat healthily. It offers nutritious and delicious kids meal ideas while partnering with other organizations to build healthier environments across the state.
Healthy Meal Plans for Kids – This medically reviewed set of recipes and meal plans from Healthline is a great planning tool for busy parents. The resource provides meal plans that provide adequate nutrition for several ages, including 6 year olds and 14 year olds – arguably the most difficult ages for instilling healthy eating. The recipes are simple and affordable, making this a helpful option for working parents.
Nourish Interactive – This site has printable menu and meal planning resources for kids between 2 years old and 10+ years old. They provide fun food worksheets, information about kids cooking and activities, and special kid nutrition activities centered around holidays, like Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. If you’re looking for something to keep your kids busy while you cook, this website has the tools to help.