One City Early Learning centers introduce kids to healthy eating
MADISON, Wis. — Good eating habits start at a young age, but for kids it’s not always easy to get them to eat healthy. One City Early Learning centers are trying to crack that code by creating fresh meals to fit the needs of their students.
“We know that what children put in their bodies affects their learning. So everything we are doing here is to get these babies ready for school. We don’t want them going to school with sugar. Sugar shuts down the syntax in brain and reduces the child’s ability to learn,” said Kaleem Caire, president and CEO of One City Early Learning Centers Inc.
One City Early Learning is looking to be a leader in healthy food choices at schools. The school hired a personal chef to cook breakfast, lunch and snacks for students every day. In the kitchen, Chef Joel Villarroel cooks unique meals for students, including vegetarian options.
“The kids are the best customers, they always tell you right in the moment if they like it,” he said.
Villarroel said the key to creating healthy meals without losing the flavor is to make everything from scratch. He cooks the same foods that the kids love but eliminates processed sugars and salts and uses organic food and natural sweeteners.
“We have everything here. The kids need to understand what is protein, what is grain, what is fruit and what is vegetables,” he said.
The school hopes by teaching kids, they will take those lessons home to their parents and encourage the entire family to eat healthier. Rod Ladson, the head chef of Bonefish Grill, created the program and collaborates on new recipes.
“You change the kids’ eating habits, you change their buying habits, you keep your kids healthier. You try to control that childhood obesity, you try to control those cycles of growing up with diabetes and high blood pressure,” Ladson said.
Ladson said eating healthy can be affordable. The chefs also host family dinners where they teach parents how to cook healthy and cook meals for a family of five on just a $20 budget.