meals | garden | growth
Ages 6 weeks to 21 years
Snack time at Special Kids has grown more colorful of late. The food cart arrives with vibrant miniature bowls topped with lettuce, chopped carrots, green beans, and... trees. The children in our nursing and peer modeling programs have grown accustomed to finding trees (what they call asparagus) and orange potatoes (sweet potatoes) on their plates. In early 2015, Special Kids developed a completely new Nutrition Program for the children enrolled in our nursing and peer-modeling services. Our staff has captured the vision of providing healthy meals for our most fragile children and grown it into an interactive part of their day and development.
"Providing the healthiest food possible for them," said Kathleen Long, Special Kids' Food Specialist, when asked about her goals for the program. "We try to help them eat as healthy as possible, solidify healthy eating habits, and train their taste buds. The goal is to help both physically and mentally."
Special Kids is meeting our goals for the Nutrition Program through planning breakfast, snacks, and lunch for the children including grains, dairy, veggies, and fruit in their daily menus. Our staff uses the Feingold Diet program that cuts out dyes, artificial flavors and sweeteners, and harmful preservatives when choosing food. The Feingold system has seen results in behavior, learning, and health related issues in children, and our staff has already noted a difference in the behavior and attentiveness of the children we serve.
To the Garden and Beyond
Starting a healthy meal program for our children is only the first step in our plans. The next step has been starting a vegetable garden planted and maintained by the kids. The purpose is to help the children learn about growing and preparing their own food. "They are more likely to eat it if they've grown it," said Kathleen.
Special Kids has also incorporated a sensory garden along with the veggies. The sensory garden includes recycled bottles that serve as planters as well as pots and pans for the children to hear. When they are in the garden, the goal is to see and touch the plants, smell the herbs, taste the food, and hear the recycled wind chimes that all make up the sensory experience.