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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>Can't Decide Whether or Not To Provide Lunch
missT 05:38 AM 02-07-2014
Hello again,
So I'm still working out start up costs and stuff for starting my own daycare (in a center not my home) and one of my largest expenses is of course food (I was originally planning to provide breakfast ,lunch, and a snack). I would be in a small town with decent grocery prices so I think I could do it with about $5 per child a day but even that is a lot. The place where I currently work does not provide lunches and has the children bring their own and the parents seem fine with it but I don't know if the parents in the area I'm looking to move to would be as OK with it. Do you think I could make it an option where parents pay more if they want lunch provided or should I just suck it up and provide all lunches? What do you think?
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Lianne 05:47 AM 02-07-2014
I'm a small home daycare. Five kids max at a time. I provide all food so I don't have to deal with forgotten lunches or having what I consider garbage food sent in. Plus, I prefer that the kids all eat the same thing so there's no squabbling over who has what and who wants it.
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MamaBearCanada 06:27 AM 02-07-2014
For me it would depend on the regulations and how much you want to deal with issues like type of kitchen required - would it have to be industrial standard, food safety and handling certification, staffing requirements, how you will deal with food allergies/religious dietary restrictions.
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Play Care 06:46 AM 02-07-2014
Originally Posted by missT:
Hello again,
So I'm still working out start up costs and stuff for starting my own daycare (in a center not my home) and one of my largest expenses is of course food (I was originally planning to provide breakfast ,lunch, and a snack). I would be in a small town with decent grocery prices so I think I could do it with about $5 per child a day but even that is a lot. The place where I currently work does not provide lunches and has the children bring their own and the parents seem fine with it but I don't know if the parents in the area I'm looking to move to would be as OK with it. Do you think I could make it an option where parents pay more if they want lunch provided or should I just suck it up and provide all lunches? What do you think?
What about the Food Program? I get a check each month for nearly $500. Totally worth it for me to provide lunch. The way to go, IMO, is to make as much food as you can. Today for instance, is pizza day here. I make the crust and the sauce myself. Very easy and the kids love it. I make my own chicken nuggets and freeze them. etc. I haven't done the exact math, but I know it's less than $5 per kid for lunch.
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cheerfuldom 06:50 AM 02-07-2014
Also, do you have to provide breakfast? What's your opening time? I would do a cut off where any child that arrives before 8 is served breakfast and after that, the kids need to come fed. I would also suggest contracted hours so the parents are not inclined to send the kids early just to get breakfast included. I would contract hours so that the parents are paying for time used and not as tempted to be there open to close every day. If you aren't eligible for a food program, I would absolutely have parents provide lunch. I do that with my daycare kids. I have a small number of stipulations though which I do enforce.....no candy, no soda, only one treat per lunch so no loading up on fruit snacks/chips/cookies/etc. Yes you still will have parents send in junk but with some basic rules, it will mostly not be a problem. I also feel free to send home extra stuff that is too much junk for the lunch such as multiple "treats". I have only ever had one problem parent with this. Would send in movie theater sized boxes of candy for lunch....mom's a nurse....yikes.
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Cat Herder 07:13 AM 02-07-2014
The food program will help you with those costs, if you shop well and cook in bulk you can even turn a profit.

I'd think it would be hard to compete without offering meals.
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coolconfidentme 07:32 AM 02-07-2014
Originally Posted by Cat Herder:
The food program will help you with those costs, if you shop well and cook in bulk you can even turn a profit.

I'd think it would be hard to compete without offering meals.
I think its also a selling point to potential clients. I mention I'm on the national food program; I always serve a meat/protein, veggie, fruit & milk (with lunch) & is included in my fee. Snacks too! They Love it!
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Evansmom 08:42 AM 02-07-2014
Just wanted to chime in my two cents. I didn't serve meals (did serve snacks) and it worked great for me. No children ever fought over someone else getting something they wanted. It was just a fact that every kid had lunch that was from home that their moms wanted them to eat.

I loved it mostly bc I didn't spend any time prepping or shopping for meals which is a lot of time taken from my day that I would rather spend with the kids or my family. And also we have food allergies and a special diet on our home so in that light everyone was accommodated safely with food that they could eat and it made my day go much more smoothly.
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Sugar Magnolia 08:48 AM 02-07-2014
I have a small center. I do not serve lunch. The requirements for a commercial kitchen were too expensive to implement. No issues with squabbling, never ever. I couldn't be happier with the situation. Works well for me.
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childcaremom 09:14 AM 02-07-2014
I provide all food unless there are allergies or if child is still on purees. Then the parents send food from home.

I have never had a problem with kids fighting over who gets what or not wanting what is in front of them.

The only issue I had was that it was sometimes more work for me to prep everyone's different meals (heating, getting out different foods, slicing, dicing, etc) and made more of a mess to clean up afterwards. I just really hate being in the kitchen Other than that, it didn't bother me.

If you were giving them the option of sending food or you providing it, I think a $5 difference would be acceptable.
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itlw8 02:18 PM 02-07-2014
a center opened recently they only supply snack because they did not want to pay for a cook. But they cost as much as the other centers in town and the parents have to bring a sack lunch... I wonder why they are having trouble getting enough children???


around here all childcares except this one provide food.
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LK5kids 02:55 PM 02-07-2014
Originally Posted by Play Care:
What about the Food Program? I get a check each month for nearly $500. Totally worth it for me to provide lunch. The way to go, IMO, is to make as much food as you can. Today for instance, is pizza day here. I make the crust and the sauce myself. Very easy and the kids love it. I make my own chicken nuggets and freeze them. etc. I haven't done the exact math, but I know it's less than $5 per kid for lunch.
When I owned a center you had to be non-profit to get the food program.. I'm not sure if that has changed. My state required we supply lunch and snack. I really wanted to just have the kids bring lunch because of the cost of food, the cost of a cook (we had to have a cook) and the time planning and buying the meals.

If you can get by without providing food, I would do it!
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missT 01:31 PM 02-10-2014
Thanks so much for all of your advice! Since my state does not require a commercial kitchen/cook I'm leaning towards serving lunch and using the food program. Especially since other centers in the area serve meals. Thanks again!
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melilley 01:42 PM 02-10-2014
There is a small center in my area where parents can either provide a lunch or they could pay for lunches. If you're thinking of going on the FP, I don't think you could do that though. But here, the FP rules differ between homes and centers so you would have to ask if you chose to go that route.
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mindi1314 02:13 PM 02-10-2014
Last year we enrolled our son into a private Kindergarten. There were basically 2 in our area that we could afford. One has a kitchen and serves hot lunch - the other does not.
We liked both the schools equally and in the end went with the school that served lunch.
Lunch service in the end, was the reason we went with that school.
Others may not mind - but I hate packing lunches
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melilley 04:14 PM 02-10-2014
Originally Posted by mindi1314:
Last year we enrolled our son into a private Kindergarten. There were basically 2 in our area that we could afford. One has a kitchen and serves hot lunch - the other does not.
We liked both the schools equally and in the end went with the school that served lunch.
Lunch service in the end, was the reason we went with that school.
Others may not mind - but I hate packing lunches
Ugh, I'm with ya on not liking to pack lunches! I love it when dd chooses to get lunch at school!
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Meeko 08:37 PM 02-10-2014
I average around $1000 per month on the food program. Sometimes less (December was $940 due to some closed days), but sometimes more.

It doesn't cost me near $1000 a month to feed the kids. I buy in bulk and turn a profit even on low months.

The parents love not having to pack food (forget food ) and like the idea I am inspected by the food program and that their kids get fresh, healthy meals.

I like the idea that I have fed the children a good portion of their daily meals. If their parents fill them full of junk...so be it. At least I know that they are being taken care of here.

My food monitor is a total sweetheart and I enjoy her dropping by.
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Starburst 03:43 PM 02-11-2014
Originally Posted by Lianne:
I'm a small home daycare. Five kids max at a time. I provide all food so I don't have to deal with forgotten lunches or having what I consider garbage food sent in. Plus, I prefer that the kids all eat the same thing so there's no squabbling over who has what and who wants it.
Not to mention for all you know that might be the only nutritious and healthy meal they are exposed to regularly if their parents let them eat junk at home.
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kscott51306 09:23 AM 02-12-2014
I run a child care ministry and we have about 40 kids on average. We provide morning and afternoon snack. The parents provide lunch. We do have refrigerators and microwaves.
We spend between $100-200 on groceries each week. It fluctuates depending on whats on the menu for snacks.
We do have a couple parents that wish we served lunch but I would have to raise prices.
You have to take into consideration, do you have a kitchen that is up to par, money to staff it? Room for all the extra groceries?
Good luck.
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jenn 01:35 PM 02-12-2014
For me, it is easiest to provide the lunches. My state regulations allow parents to send lunches, but they have to meet the guidelines set by the state. They would have to send a Meat or meat alternative, 2 servings of fruit/veg (or 1 each each), a bread or grain, and milk to drink. I am required to have 2nds available if needed, so they would have to send extra of everything in case their child wanted more. If someone did not send the correct things, I would be the one in trouble, not them. Instead of monitoring each lunch to make sure they meet the guidelines, it is simpler to just provide the food.
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Tags:food program, meals provided, usda food program
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