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e.j. 06:25 PM 11-28-2017
For those of you who are members of a food program, are you allowed to serve cut up pieces of melon (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew), cut up pieces of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) or cut up pieces of cherry or grape tomatoes to kids under 4 years of age?
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flying_babyb 06:46 PM 11-28-2017
are you allowed to serve cut up pieces of melon (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew), cut up pieces of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) or cut up pieces of cherry or grape tomatoes to kids under 4 years of age?
I work in a daycare on the food program. We have mixed melon at least once a week in the twos room. We get mixed berries a lot too.
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Rockgirl 07:44 PM 11-28-2017
I haven’t seen or heard of any restrictions on these foods. As I understand, once a child is 12 months, they should be eating the same as the older children. I do cut foods differently, depending on the children’s ages. For example, today I served apples. The 4-5 yr olds each had his/her own whole apple. The toddlers had theirs peeled and diced.
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e.j. 09:00 PM 11-28-2017
Hmmm...up until the new rules were put in place, it hadn't been an issue here. Now i'm told those foods will be disallowed for kids under 4. Apples and pears are ok but not berries and melons - even if they're cut into small pieces. Cherry and grape tomatoes I understand, although I can't figure out how they're any different from larger tomatoes when they're cut up. Just wondering if anyone else has been told the same.
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Josiegirl 03:10 AM 11-29-2017
I have not heard that e.j., who told you that? I bet they're wrong because nowhere has it been mentioned.
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midaycare 06:32 AM 11-29-2017
My food lady should be visiting this week. I will ask her when she comes.
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e.j. 06:34 AM 11-29-2017
I had served those foods during the month of October and last week, received a form letter from my food program saying, "choking foods for children under 4 years should not be served (including berries, melon balls, cherry tomatoes)" and that in the future, claims for those foods would be disallowed. I had served all 3 types of foods (cut up, of course) so I asked for clarification. My food rep doubled checked for me and replied that none of those foods are allowed to be served to kids under 4 even if they're cut up.

It makes no sense to me. I understand why whole melon balls, whole berries and whole grape/cherry tomatoes shouldn't be served to kids under 4 - that's common sense to me - but to not allow cut up versions of those foods...? It doesn't make sense to me at all that I can't serve something like cut up watermelon but I can still serve apples and pears.
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Leigh 09:28 AM 11-29-2017
I have not heard anything about this! I serve those things all the time. I cut them up, and with grapes (I believe maybe this was a suggestion from Nannyde, but I am pretty sure I read it here), I put them in the blender and serve them at an applesauce consistency. I haven't had anything disallowed for this.
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Josiegirl 10:44 AM 11-29-2017
Originally Posted by e.j.:
I had served those foods during the month of October and last week, received a form letter from my food program saying, "choking foods for children under 4 years should not be served (including berries, melon balls, cherry tomatoes)" and that in the future, claims for those foods would be disallowed. I had served all 3 types of foods (cut up, of course) so I asked for clarification. My food rep doubled checked for me and replied that none of those foods are allowed to be served to kids under 4 even if they're cut up.

It makes no sense to me. I understand why whole melon balls, whole berries and whole grape/cherry tomatoes shouldn't be served to kids under 4 - that's common sense to me - but to not allow cut up versions of those foods...? It doesn't make sense to me at all that I can't serve something like cut up watermelon but I can still serve apples and pears.
I've served most of those foods you've mentioned and they've never notified me of changes.
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daycarediva 10:52 AM 11-29-2017
EVERYTHING is a choking food. Diced small enough, it's fine to eat. I would argue this point. Who is your food program sponsor? Go to the CACFP national level and ask!

What do they say you CAN serve?

I've never even had them question it eg. I just write "grapes" or "cherry tomatoes" and they have not once asked if I even cut them (I do!)

My sponsor does not limit what fruits and vegetables can be served after like 6 months I think (I don't take infants so I'm not 100% sure on that age)
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Annalee 10:58 AM 11-29-2017
Originally Posted by daycarediva:
EVERYTHING is a choking food. Diced small enough, it's fine to eat. I would argue this point. Who is your food program sponsor? Go to the CACFP national level and ask!

What do they say you CAN serve?

I've never even had them question it eg. I just write "grapes" or "cherry tomatoes" and they have not once asked if I even cut them (I do!)

My sponsor does not limit what fruits and vegetables can be served after like 6 months I think (I don't take infants so I'm not 100% sure on that age)
We got a memo from licensing about cutting foods up appropriately. The FP has never checked nor required that here. But licensing is getting very technical here. Like you said, children can choke on anything. But I think Licensing has this idea they can "prevent" everything bad that could happen. That is my only logic to these new rules if there is any logic to them
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MissAnn 11:27 AM 11-29-2017
I also received a memo from licensing. It said to cut up beans. It did not specify what kind of beans. Black beans? Pinto beans? Or just green beans? It encouraged a lot of puréed foods… How are kids supposed to learn to chew?
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Annalee 11:33 AM 11-29-2017
Originally Posted by MissAnn:
I also received a memo from licensing. It said to cut up beans. It did not specify what kind of beans. Black beans? Pinto beans? Or just green beans? It encouraged a lot of puréed foods… How are kids supposed to learn to chew?
EXACTLY!
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e.j. 12:09 PM 11-29-2017
I've always served berries, melons and tomatoes, too, and it's never been an issue until now. Apparently, from what my food program says, they are no longer allowed under the new rules. My food program is Yours For Children. I've been with them for over 20 years and I've never had a problem with them. The rep who visits is wonderful; I can't say enough positive about her. From what she told me, she's equally as frustrated by this new rule.

As far as I know, we can still serve things like banana, kiwi, mango, peaches, plums, apples, pears, nectarines, oranges, pineapple, apricots, etc. Just not berries, melons and small, round tomatoes - and grapes, which we were told not to serve years ago. It's just the arbitrary nature of this that makes no sense to me, I guess. Why would diced apples or pears be any safer than cut up or even pureed strawberries? Based on what I was told, though, we can't serve berries or melons in any form from now on. It makes about as much sense as being able to serve sausage but not hot dogs. Sometimes the rules set by government entities just don't make much sense!
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e.j. 05:08 PM 11-29-2017
Originally Posted by daycarediva:
EVERYTHING is a choking food. Diced small enough, it's fine to eat. I would argue this point. Who is your food program sponsor? Go to the CACFP national level and ask!
So I did go to the CACFP website to see who I could contact. While on the site, I read information that appeared to say providers can still serve these foods; they just can't be served whole.

I went back to my food program rep and asked for further clarification. Apparently, they just recently received clarification themselves. It turns out, it's a state mandate so it applies to those of us who live in MA. We will no longer be allowed to serve berries, melons or cherry/grape tomatoes to children under 4 in any form. Apparently, providers (who go through YFC, at least) should be getting notification soon. Gotta love this state.
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Josiegirl 03:40 AM 11-30-2017
I gotta say, that's crazy. Especially if apples are okay and watermelon isn't. Who makes these rules??
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LK5kids 06:15 AM 11-30-2017
Right! Many apples are much harder than watermelon! What the???? If honey dew and canteloupe are ripe they are also very soft!

Raspberries are soft. I suppose it's because they are small and round. Crazy!


What about grapes? Now they can be a choking hazard!

What a shame!
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LysesKids 08:49 AM 11-30-2017
Originally Posted by Annalee:
EXACTLY!
And my families want to know why I dropped the FP... TN requires that infants be given the opportunity to self feed part of their meal once sitting, but if they limit what you can feed them, then what is the point of self feeding? I'm glad I am Licensed exempt for this reason (not to mention the QRIS crap)
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MarinaVanessa 09:26 AM 11-30-2017
I would reach out directly to the USDA Food Program for clarification. I would give them the name of the food program sponsor who gave you this info as well as the name of the organization,address and telephone number. The USDA is the one who puts the rules out, the food program sponsors interpret the info. Sometimes you just have to go a little higher up when organizations try to be a little more ... ambitious.

If it's licensing that's saying this then I'd ask licensing to give you a copy of the regulation that says that you can't serve these foods. They're known to be ambitious also
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Annalee 09:43 AM 11-30-2017
Originally Posted by LysesKids:
And my families want to know why I dropped the FP... TN requires that infants be given the opportunity to self feed part of their meal once sitting, but if they limit what you can feed them, then what is the point of self feeding? I'm glad I am Licensed exempt for this reason (not to mention the QRIS crap)
My FP has no issues with what we serve nor how we cut it up...they even encourage to put some infants on table food if they are able.....only issue I have with FP is if a child isn't approved soon enough they can't be counted for up to a month....that deadline is unrealistic IMHO. The stickler for me is the memos from Licensing and QRIS.
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MarinaVanessa 10:09 AM 11-30-2017
I did a little bit of digging for my own curiosity and read a little bit and found something that I think may be the source of where they're getting their info. The guide is intended for infants under 12 months of age that participate in the Food Program.

"Warning About Vegetables and Fruits That May Cause Choking
Due to the risk of choking, do not feed babies the following
vegetables and fruits:
Raw vegetables (including green peas, string beans, celery, carrot, etc.);
Cooked or raw whole corn kernels;
Whole pieces of canned fruit;
Hard pieces of raw fruit such as apple, pear, melon;
Whole grapes, berries, cherries, melon balls, or cherry and grape tomatoes (cut these foods into quarters, with pits removed, before feeding to older babies); and
• Uncooked dried fruit (including raisins)."

So even though the recommendation is not to serve them raw, hard or whole they say to cut into quarters. Maybe you can show this to your sponsor/analyst.
Team Nutrition USDA Feeding Infants: A Guide for Use
in the Child Nutrition Programs

Page 50

Here is everything that talks about food in relation to choking in the same guide:
"... Peanut butter, other nut or seed butters, nuts, and seeds should not be fed to babies and are not reimbursable as meal components in the Infant Meal Pattern. These foods cause choking and may cause an allergic reaction in some babies." - page 51

"“Baby food” meat sticks (which look like miniature hot dogs)—these are not reimbursable because, by the manufacturer’s declaration, they are designed to match the skills of children over 12 months of age. Hot dogs or similarly shaped products are not recommended for babies because they can cause choking, even when cut into round slices." page 52

"Cheese may be introduced to infants 8 months or older. Small thin slices or strips of cheese are easier and safer. Do not feed chunks of cheese, which can cause choking." - page 53

"Modify the texture of cooked dry beans and dry peas for a baby (cooked whole beans or peas could cause choking)." - page 53

"Only serve bread or crackers if the parent, in consultation with the baby’s doctor, agrees for them to be served and after they have previously been introduced to the baby with no problems. If any of the above foods are served, prepare them in a form that a baby can eat without choking." - page 54

"AVOID
Do not feed babies these foods, which present a choking risk:
• Snack potato or corn chips, pretzels, or cheese twists,
• Cookies or granola bars,
• Crackers or breads with seeds, nut pieces, or whole grain kernels such as wheat berries, and
• Whole kernels of cooked rice, barley, or wheat; these should be finely ground or mashed before feeding to babies."
- Page 54

"Do Not Feed Babies These Foods:
.... Hard pieces of raw vegetable or raw fruit—they can cause choking and be difficult to digest.
.... Peanut butter and other nut and seed butters (e.g., soy nut, almond, cashew, or sunflower seed butter) and nuts and seeds. These foods can cause choking and may cause allergic reactions in some babies." - page 57

"Foods to Avoid That Can Cause Choking
• tough meat or large chunks of meat,
• peanuts or other nuts and seeds (such as pumpkin or
sunflower),
• peanut butter or other nut or seed butters,
• candy (e.g., hard candy, jelly beans, caramels, chewing gum),
• popcorn,
• hot dogs, sausages, or toddler hot dogs (even when cut into round slices),
• potato and corn chips and similar snack foods,
• pretzels,
• chunks of cheese,

Nothing in the guide said that you couldn't serve the foods, just that you had to cook it, cut it into quarters no bigger than 1/4" or mash it.
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daycarediva 10:22 AM 11-30-2017
Originally Posted by e.j.:
So I did go to the CACFP website to see who I could contact. While on the site, I read information that appeared to say providers can still serve these foods; they just can't be served whole.

I went back to my food program rep and asked for further clarification. Apparently, they just recently received clarification themselves. It turns out, it's a state mandate so it applies to those of us who live in MA. We will no longer be allowed to serve berries, melons or cherry/grape tomatoes to children under 4 in any form. Apparently, providers (who go through YFC, at least) should be getting notification soon. Gotta love this state.

That is insane.

Apples but not watermelon?

Kiwi but not raspberries?

THE STATE/government I tell ya!
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e.j. 11:33 AM 11-30-2017
Originally Posted by LK5kids:
What about grapes? Now they can be a choking hazard!
To my knowledge, grapes were taken off the menu years ago. I was told by my food rep at the time to just stop serving them at all since we can't serve them to kids under 4 and most of my kids are 4 and under. I thought they were being overly cautious at the time since I practically minced them any time I served them but, whatever. I figured I wasn't going to lose sleep over the issue. It's getting ridiculous now, though.
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e.j. 11:55 AM 11-30-2017
Originally Posted by MarinaVanessa:
I would reach out directly to the USDA Food Program for clarification. I would give them the name of the food program sponsor who gave you this info as well as the name of the organization,address and telephone number. The USDA is the one who puts the rules out, the food program sponsors interpret the info. Sometimes you just have to go a little higher up when organizations try to be a little more ... ambitious.

If it's licensing that's saying this then I'd ask licensing to give you a copy of the regulation that says that you can't serve these foods. They're known to be ambitious also
Originally Posted by MarinaVanessa:
I did a little bit of digging for my own curiosity and read a little bit and found something that I think may be the source of where they're getting their info. The guide is intended for infants under 12 months of age that participate in the Food Program.
Thanks for looking further into this. I actually had found the same information which is why I went back to my fp rep to question her on it. I did get an update this morning from her saying they're looking into this further. Apparently, a decision has been made to allow melon as long as it's sliced and not "balled" so there's progress! We still can't serve berries, though. The agency is going to "appeal the decision to the state" and they're trying to find "contact information at the state level" so providers can complain. If that doesn't work, I just might take your advice and go directly to the USDA food program to ask for their take on it. I'm not one who usually goes looking for a fight but this rule just makes no sense at all and shouldn't stand as is - especially since the rest of the country apparently can serve berries! lol
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e.j. 12:04 PM 11-30-2017
Originally Posted by LysesKids:
And my families want to know why I dropped the FP... TN requires that infants be given the opportunity to self feed part of their meal once sitting, but if they limit what you can feed them, then what is the point of self feeding? I'm glad I am Licensed exempt for this reason (not to mention the QRIS crap)
If being licensed exempt were an option in this state, I'd be there with you!

I've been wondering, though...if QRIS becomes mandatory in every state, as some have said will happen eventually, would that end the option of being licensed exempt in the states that currently include it as an option?
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e.j. 10:09 PM 12-01-2017
Just in case there are providers from MA who are interested....According to the Yours For Children Facebook page, they have been communicating with the MA DESE Office of Food and Nutrition Programs to get clarification on the berry/melon issue. They said they will be issuing further guidance on the new rule as soon as they get more information.
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e.j. 03:08 PM 12-14-2017
I'm posting the most recent clarification from my food program. From what I understand, this is not just a MA regulation. If it doesn't impact you now, it will at some point. I've been told that all states will be implementing these rules at some point.

Clarifications received to the Choking Foods Rule.
The good news is that MOST berries are ok, see specific list below for berries that are NOT ok. Melon is ok, it may NOT be served in BALL form. Please see list below. All in all the changes are not that big.
Choking Foods:
Based on guidance from the USDA, foods that pose the highest risk for choking are foods that, "are round, tube-shaped, small, hard, thick and sticky, smooth, slippery, or easily molded to stick to the airway." In order to align with Massachusetts state licensing and USDA's recommendations, OFNP's policy restricts the serving of the following foods to children under 4 years of age:
* Hot dogs, sausages, sausage links, or similar processed
food items
* Grapes, cherries, melon balls (melon is ok as long as it is NOT in “BALL FORM"), or cherry and grape tomatoes.
* Specific berries - kiwi, raspberries, blackberries, goji berries.
* Peanuts, nuts, and seeds (for example sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
* Peanut butter and nut butters
* Dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries
There are many other items that are not included in the above list which may still pose a choking hazard due to their shape (tube-shaped, round, small) or texture (hard, thick and sticky, smooth, slippery, or easily molded).
To clarify, the foods listed in the bulleted list, are not to be served to children under the age of 4, even using alternate food preparation methods.
We will work together on helping you choose alternate foods to feed children under 4.

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MarinaVanessa 03:13 PM 12-14-2017
Originally Posted by e.j.:
From what I understand, this is not just a MA regulation. If it doesn't impact you now, it will at some point. I've been told that all states will be implementing these rules at some point.[/i]
Hmm, that's very interesting. I'l have to keep an ear out for changes like these. Out of curiosity, how many other providers here have heard of these changes? Either that they are coming or they are already in place?

I'm California ... no word yet on any of these.
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Blackcat31 03:20 PM 12-14-2017
That's it.

I am serving everything in those suck-able pouches from now on.

The kids can all pretend they are on a spaceship to the moon and have to eat astronaut food.
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Rockgirl 03:21 PM 12-14-2017
Originally Posted by Blackcat31:
That's it.

I am serving everything is suck-able pouches from now on.

The kids can all pretend they are on a spaceship to the moon and have to eat astronaut food.


And think of how EASY it will be!
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Leigh 07:16 PM 12-14-2017
Originally Posted by Blackcat31:
That's it.

I am serving everything in those suck-able pouches from now on.

The kids can all pretend they are on a spaceship to the moon and have to eat astronaut food.
At least no one would refuse lunch! I am so dang sick of spending so much time cooking and cleaning up after cooking that this sounds so dang tempting!
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Josiegirl 02:41 AM 12-15-2017
Originally Posted by Rockgirl:


And think of how EASY it will be!
And expensive!

That list is ridiculous. I still do NOT understand why raspberries and kiwi are not allowed but apples, pineapple and even oranges are. I don't understand the peanut butter as long as you spread it on something thinly. I still serve hot dogs(about 1x a month) and grapes; I just cut them appropriately.
I'll have to buy myself a food processor and throw their whole meal in it, give 'em a bowl and let them go at it.
And if you don't serve some of those foods, how will they automatically know to chew them well at 4 yo?
It's all about common sense. Sit to eat, take small bites, no fooling at the table, cut/chop food appropriately.
If they keep restricting more and more, there will be less and less providers on the food programs and then there goes their funding.
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e.j. 06:55 AM 12-15-2017
Originally Posted by Josiegirl:
And expensive!

That list is ridiculous. I still do NOT understand why raspberries and kiwi are not allowed but apples, pineapple and even oranges are. I don't understand the peanut butter as long as you spread it on something thinly. I still serve hot dogs(about 1x a month) and grapes; I just cut them appropriately.
I'll have to buy myself a food processor and throw their whole meal in it, give 'em a bowl and let them go at it.
And if you don't serve some of those foods, how will they automatically know to chew them well at 4 yo?
It's all about common sense. Sit to eat, take small bites, no fooling at the table, cut/chop food appropriately.
If they keep restricting more and more, there will be less and less providers on the food programs and then there goes their funding.


Just fyi...It's been clarified for us that by kiwi they mean kiwi berries (which I had never heard of!) and not the kiwi with the fuzzy skin we're used to seeing around here. So you can serve kiwi but not kiwi berries.
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Country Kids 09:36 AM 12-21-2017
If we make anything homemade we know have to provide the recipes to the food program or have on hand when our rep comes.

Also, we are know going to need to start writing down how much we serve to each child on a daily basis. Will be a formal rule in 2019 it sounds like but trying to get us in the habit of doing it now.
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e.j. 11:56 AM 12-21-2017
We haven't been told any of that yet. My guess is, they want the dust to settle on the berry/melon flap first before they hit us with more.

It was also confirmed for me that while we can serve graham crackers and animal crackers at 6 and 7 grams of sugar per serving, we can no longer serve cinnamon swirl bread at 4 grams of sugar per serving. Go figure. My dc kids love cinnamon bread. They're going to be a very sad group of kids.
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LysesKids 02:55 PM 12-21-2017
Originally Posted by Country Kids:
If we make anything homemade we know have to provide the recipes to the food program or have on hand when our rep comes.

Also, we are know going to need to start writing down how much we serve to each child on a daily basis. Will be a formal rule in 2019 it sounds like but trying to get us in the habit of doing it now.
Just another reason I'm glad I am not on it anymore... it's hard enough to care for four infants without extra paperwork & even my rep that I had agreed that trying to set inspections was useless because my kids flip flopped naps & lunch due to age; I can take food deductions on taxes, I'm ok with that
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hwichlaz 09:14 AM 12-22-2017
Originally Posted by Josiegirl:
And expensive!

That list is ridiculous. I still do NOT understand why raspberries and kiwi are not allowed but apples, pineapple and even oranges are. I don't understand the peanut butter as long as you spread it on something thinly. I still serve hot dogs(about 1x a month) and grapes; I just cut them appropriately.
That’s a licensing reg though, not FP.
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hwichlaz 09:16 AM 12-22-2017
Originally Posted by Country Kids:
If we make anything homemade we know have to provide the recipes to the food program or have on hand when our rep comes.

Also, we are know going to need to start writing down how much we serve to each child on a daily basis. Will be a formal rule in 2019 it sounds like but trying to get us in the habit of doing it now.
I’ve always had to have recipes on hand for home made things. Also, for recording how much I serve them....I’ll record what I’m required to serve them then. Easy Peasy. Or I’ll multiply it by 1.5 since they usually have a small 2nd helping. Maybe kidkare will have a button for that like they do for taking roll, where you can just use the enrolled times if everyone is present and and relatively on time that day.
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Baby Beluga 09:54 AM 12-22-2017
Originally Posted by e.j.:
I'm posting the most recent clarification from my food program. From what I understand, this is not just a MA regulation. If it doesn't impact you now, it will at some point. I've been told that all states will be implementing these rules at some point.

Clarifications received to the Choking Foods Rule.
The good news is that MOST berries are ok, see specific list below for berries that are NOT ok. Melon is ok, it may NOT be served in BALL form. Please see list below. All in all the changes are not that big.
Choking Foods:
Based on guidance from the USDA, foods that pose the highest risk for choking are foods that, "are round, tube-shaped, small, hard, thick and sticky, smooth, slippery, or easily molded to stick to the airway." In order to align with Massachusetts state licensing and USDA's recommendations, OFNP's policy restricts the serving of the following foods to children under 4 years of age:
* Hot dogs, sausages, sausage links, or similar processed
food items
* Grapes, cherries, melon balls (melon is ok as long as it is NOT in “BALL FORM"), or cherry and grape tomatoes.
* Specific berries - kiwi, raspberries, blackberries, goji berries.
* Peanuts, nuts, and seeds (for example sunflower or pumpkin seeds)
* Peanut butter and nut butters
* Dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries
There are many other items that are not included in the above list which may still pose a choking hazard due to their shape (tube-shaped, round, small) or texture (hard, thick and sticky, smooth, slippery, or easily molded).
To clarify, the foods listed in the bulleted list, are not to be served to children under the age of 4, even using alternate food preparation methods.
We will work together on helping you choose alternate foods to feed children under 4.
I'm not on the food program, but this list is ridiculous.
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hwichlaz 10:26 AM 12-22-2017
Originally Posted by Baby Beluga:
I'm not on the food program, but this list is ridiculous.
I’ll be watching for this and fight against it. Because if you chop them up they are no longer round or tubular shaped. EESH.
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daycarediva 11:09 AM 12-22-2017
Originally Posted by Blackcat31:
That's it.

I am serving everything in those suck-able pouches from now on.

The kids can all pretend they are on a spaceship to the moon and have to eat astronaut food.


Originally Posted by e.j.:
We haven't been told any of that yet. My guess is, they want the dust to settle on the berry/melon flap first before they hit us with more.

It was also confirmed for me that while we can serve graham crackers and animal crackers at 6 and 7 grams of sugar per serving, we can no longer serve cinnamon swirl bread at 4 grams of sugar per serving. Go figure. My dc kids love cinnamon bread. They're going to be a very sad group of kids.
Was banned here too, as a sweet.

I now make WW bread and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. It's NOT the same, but the kids are ok with it.
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e.j. 11:47 AM 12-22-2017
Originally Posted by daycarediva:
I now make WW bread and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. It's NOT the same, but the kids are ok with it.
I'll have to try that. I did try using cinnamon butter on whole grain toast and the kids looked at me like I was trying to feed them poison. I tried telling them it tastes just like cinnamon bread but they weren't buying it!
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