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Guidelines on packing lunches
Please only send healthy food to GAP. We are a healthy-habits play school, and we believe that healthy habits are best learnt early in life, and this includes eating healthy food at playschool and learning the difference between “everyday foods” and “sometimes foods”.
Do not send any chocolates / lollies / sweet drinks (including juice and flavoured milks). If your child does bring in any of the above, staff will likely send the food item back home with your child for him to enjoy later in the car or at home.
Always bring a water bottle to GAP. Drinking plenty of water is a great habit to get into – the earlier, the better, and it’s the best thirst-quencher. Please ensure your water bottle is 7cm or less in diameter so that it fits in our water wagon. We have spare water bottles if you forget yours.
Please check our bulletin board in the foyer before you start to send in products containing nuts or other allergens. Sometimes children at the GAP have known severe allergies which cause us to ban certain foods.
Please make sure fruit and veggies are peeled / cut up if this is what your child needs in order to manage on their own. When packing fruit and veggies for your child to take to GAP, please take into account your child’s eating habits and skills. Some children avoid fruit unless it is cut up, and some don’t have the skills yet to peel fruit by themselves. We can certainly help them, but we know preschool-aged children love being independent, and managing their food from home without help from grown-ups — it builds their self-esteem. That said, we have an apple slinky machine, so don’t cut your apples up… we can make cool slinky apples at GAP which the children love!
Please remember to pack food in easy to open lunch boxes / containers. Have your child practice at home with their new containers and water bottles to ensure they can manage by themselves. Of course we will help them if need be.
Please be conscious of your environmental impact. Cling-wrap, single-use soft plastics, squeezy yogurt pouches and single-use plastic yogurt or custard cups are strongly discouraged. We try to provide each child with a bees-wax cotton wrap and reusable yogurt jar to use instead. Small glass jars are fine as they are transported inside your child’s lunch bag and lifted from there to a table and back again. We have a supply of spoons that children can use. Certainly you will want an insulated lunch bag to carry your food in. A re-usable lunch box and water bottle are essential, and some families opt for stainless steel lunch boxes and drink bottles instead of plastic. Reducing plastics and waste all ties in with what we are teaching our children about being environmentally responsible. At the GAP, we are keen to be green!
Please think about reducing your child’s sugar intake. Hidden sugars are everywhere – from muesli bars to yogurt – even in foods marketed for children. If you pack a healthy sandwich and a muesli bar or other little treat, guess which your child will eat first? And having eaten the muesli bar, the hidden sugars will make your child feel full with no room for the healthier parts of their lunch. Your child only needs the healthy part of their lunch, so that is all you need to pack.
Please be aware that certain foods could potentially be a choking risk for a young child. When sending food to playschool for your child, please prepare it in a way your child can handle without choking. The ACT Department of Health has provided some recommendations regarding avoiding choking risks for young children.
Please only send food that does not require reheating. Alternatively, please use a food thermos if you wish to send in warm food during winter. Our license doesn’t allow us to heat up food for your child.
If you want to bring food to the GAP for all children to enjoy (for example, small cupcakes, muffins or a platter of sliced fruits) to celebrate your child’s birthday, that would be lovely. On arrival, please let the teachers know about the ingredients so we can consider food allergies / intolerances / family food preferences when we help your child to share the food around. Please keep in mind that we are a healthy-habits playschool, so the healthier the treat, the better.