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Nothing beats a meal prepared with love. It fuels the body and nourishes the soul – and for the children at ACG Tauranga Preschool, it provides a vital link to home during busy fun-filled days of learning.
“Our centre children bring their own packed lunch each day and they love it,” says ACG Preschool Manager Raechel Thompson.
“Parents prepare lunches for their children with much love and care, and this creates a beautiful connection when they leave their precious ones with us for the day. Parents know what their child likes to eat so this alleviates any anxiety they may have about them going hungry. Some parents pack little notes and draw pictures for their children and pop them in their lunch boxes too!”
For mother of two Hannah Gibbs, the packed lunch policy is a big drawcard. It gives her peace of mind that sons Xavier (4) and Oakley (2) are getting the nutrition they need to thrive.
“One of our boys needs to be careful of some foods, so by packing his lunch I know he’s eating the best he can for his specific needs,” Hannah says.
“I like that we can choose what to give our children for lunch. I pack what they enjoy so I know they are eating well when they are not at home.”
Xavier and Oakley are big fans too.
“We have a good little routine in the morning, we make lunch boxes while they have their breakfast so it’s a nice little bit of family kitchen time together. The boys enjoy having a say in what goes into their lunch box, and they know what to expect at lunchtime, which is much better than having a meal they are unsure of and then won’t eat.”
Lunches include everything from wholemeal wraps, crackers and yoghurt, to fruit, popcorn and raw vegetables with hummus. As well as providing a sense of comfort and security, bringing a packed lunch from home provides a host of other benefits.
Says Raechel, “Any dietary and allergy requirements are met for each individual and our children gain the skills of managing their own lunch boxes, which helps set them up to be competent and capable and supports their later transition to school.
“I have found that children always eat more when they have the ownership of their own lunch box prepared from home. There are so many opportunities for conversations around the kai table as children talk about their food – what they have, do others have similar food to them, what they brought from home that a parent baked, or they helped bake. They also get to see such a wide variety of foods from other cultures and this just adds to the discussions and learning around mealtimes.”
With so many upsides, Raechel says it’s easy to see why the centre’s staff and families are such strong advocates.
“Children are with us for the majority of their day and it is so important that they are well hydrated and fed nutritious, healthy food. This is vital for optimal learning outcomes and we find that a packed lunch from home meets each child’s individual needs. We wrap our learning curriculum around each individual child as they all learn in a uniquely different way – so why not do this for food too!”