University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Childcare and Youth Training
and Technical Assistance Project (CYTTAP)

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EAT Family Style

EAT family style Ecological Approach to (EAT) Family Style

Sitting and eating meals together with children is an important part of family style dining that can encourage children to try new foods and eat healthy foods. Throughout this lesson, watch and practice these easy modeling healthy eating strategies to empower yourself to lead by example and see your mealtime transform to be the most enjoyable part of the day!

What is family style dining?

Family style dining is a widely recommended practice for feeding children in childcare. The Institute of Medicine, USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program and Head Start Peformance Standards recommend that childcare providers serve meals family style for children between ages 2-5 years. During family style dining, providers sit and eat meals together with children and children select their own portions and serve themselves.

What are the advantages of EAT family-style dining?

Advantages for Children

  • Eat based on hunger and fullness
  • Develop long-term healthy eating habits
  • Try new foods
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Prevent over-weight and obesity
  • Develop independence, self-esteem and cofidence
  • Develop language and math skills
  • Self-help skills and fine motor development

Advantages for Childcare Providers

  • Meet childcare standards and recommendations
  • Pleasant mealtimes
  • Save time when short staffed
  • Improve communication with parents
  • Free online training with videos, activities and resources
  • Research-based and classroom-tested training
  • Approved for training credits and certificate