The role of the caregiver at meal time

Child Caring Online - information about the Child and Adult Care Food Program

The role of the caregiver at meal time


  • Encourage the children to try each food component.
  • Sit down with the children while they eat.
  • Encourage pleasant meal-time conversation. All meal-time conversation does NOT have to be about food.
  • Emphasize proper table manners.
  • Make meal time a pleasant time
  • Assure that each child is served a reimbursable meal.
  • Fill out meal count sheets at the point of meal service.


  • Hovering
  • Badgering
  • Cajoling
  • Forcing children to eat
  • Withholding snack for disciplinary reasons
  • Making children “clean their plate” of a food they may not like before providing seconds of a food component they do like. Every child is entitled to receive the full regulatory portion of every meal.

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Should we force children to eat or reward them for cleaning their plates?

Updated February 9, 2023 4:41pm