PIC Food and Nutrition FAQs

1.        Why does PIC's tuition include lunch and snacks?
By federal regulations, we need to serve a warm lunch to all children whose families receive public funding to assist with the cost of child care. In order to meet program guidelines, a school lunch must be available to ALL children in all of our Early Learning classrooms, and not offered as a stand-alone option with an added fee. As we must offer lunch to all children, the cost of lunch will be included in our tuition beginning July 1, 2019.

2.     How does the Food and Nutrition program align with PIC’s mission and values?
The foundation of our work is to give high quality care to all children, including children whose families are unable to afford the full cost of care. PIC has always worked to be an equitable, inclusive, and socio-economically diverse community. This is important work, yet not always easy to achieve. In order to follow our mission and live by our values, we must follow government guidelines concerning a food program.

3.     What is the lunch program?
PIC contracts with a vendor to deliver nutritious, warm lunches Monday - Thursday to our classrooms. Since we started offering families the choice of PIC lunch in 2017, we have worked with our vendor and teachers to ensure that monthly menus feature a variety of kid favorites.

4.    What does “Family Style” mean?
Lunch is served family style. Family style refers to children being served the same lunch, and as is age-appropriate, they serve themselves from the bowls of food on the table.

Here is a resource for the benefits of family style dining:
https://blog.jumpinforhealthykids.org/family-style-meals-at-daycare-preschool-encourage-healthy-eating

5.      What about PIC Pizza Day?
The beloved Pizza Fridays continue and are also included in the regular tuition. 

6.    Which classrooms will be included in the lunch program?  
All PIC classrooms must be included in the lunch program.

7.      Will we have the option to “opt out” of the lunch program?
Families will always be able to send lunch from home, however tuition will stay the same regardless of whether a child eats lunch provided by PIC.

8.      How will the lunch program work with infants and young toddlers?
If families of infants choose to have PIC provide lunch for their children, formula and ready-to-eat cereals will be available. When families begin to offer soft foods, pureed food will be provided, and when families begin to serve finger foods, the same lunch served to the two-year-olds will be provided and cut into smaller pieces. 

9.      Who is the food vendor?
We are excited to announce that we have just contracted with Smart Lunches, a company with an excellent record and very positive references, beginning July 1, 2019. We look forward to partnering with them to bring our children delicious, nutritious meals. See the monthly lunch menus.

10.      Are healthy lunches served?
All of our food served (snacks and lunches) need to meet the strict criteria established by the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). CACFP establishes nutrition requirements for meals served to children in early childhood programs and schools. We are regularly audited by CACFP to assure that all lunches have the required nutritional components, that lunch is offered to all children of all ages, and that food is served in a clean, healthy and age-appropriate way.

11.    What if my child has dietary restrictions?
Special dietary options are available through a monthly restricted diet menu. Many allergies can also be accommodated.

12.      What if my child is a picky eater and will not eat the lunches served?
We encourage all families to participate and use this as an opportunity to expand your child's palate. Families will always be able to send lunch from home, but the tuition charge will remain the same.

We have found that most of the children have been willing to try an assortment of foods that they have not eaten before (even ones that they refuse at home). They may be more apt to try new things when they see peers enjoying them and with the gentle encouragement of trusted teachers. Many parents have reported that this is the best asset of the program.

In addition to lunch, we serve substantial morning and afternoon snacks. We have “picky eaters” at snack time, too. We see the lunch program as an extension of our larger food program.

Here are some helpful tips for picky eaters:
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers-picky-eating

Choose My Plate also offers strategies and tips for healthy eating:
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/health-and-nutrition-information

13. Will I need to fill out more paperwork for the lunch program?
The answer is yes. It is a CACFP requirement that we have ALL families complete a form as part of the enrollment process. Families will be asked to complete this form annually. 

14. Will I need to provide my household income? 
This information helps to determine the lunch reimbursement rate that PIC could receive for serving free lunch to families unable to afford the full cost of tuition.

  • Families that receive public funding to help cover the cost of tuition will be asked to provide income information.
  • Families paying full tuition can sign the form without providing any financial information. 

We hope this has answered most of your questions concerning PIC's Food Program. For more information please contact our Assistant Enrollment Coordinator Amanda Schroeder by calling our main number 215-222-5480, or via email at aschroeder@parentinfantcenter.org.