Nutrition at CCLC Child Care Center, by Chefables
October 2013

"30% - 40% of healthcare expenditures in the USA go to help address issues that are closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar."
--Credit Suisse Report "Sugar: Consumption At A Crossroads"

"As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue...."
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Numbers like the above make me think hard about how I feed my children. Given that this may be the single biggest threat to the health of America's children, it baffles me that my sons' child care provider CCLC does not make this a priority. Neither CCLC nor their caterer seems to know how much sugar is in the snacks they serve. Neither seems to have anyone trained in nutrition.

At home I think about the nutrition we consume and about what I teach my boys to enable them to make healthy choices on their own. I cook with a lot of vegetables and expect everyone, adults and kids, to eat the same things.

Two of my kids meals are provided by the day care, a morning snack and an afternoon snack. Some months ago CCLC started using Chefables as the caterer for these snacks. The Chefables web page sounds great, full of buzz words and enthusiasm about nutrition. But when I looked at what actually appeared on my children's plates, almost every snack included a sweet pastry and a fruit, and only about 10% of the snacks included a vegetable. What I saw my kids learning was that bread products should be white in color and sweet, and that vegetables should be rare. Obviously convenience is a big factor and not everything possible in a home kitchen is possible in a commercial environment. I decided that while I can't change what my kids eat, at least I'd like to understand. So I asked CCLC how much sugar is in the snacks. They referred me to Chefables. I called Chefables and, after some phone tag, had a roughly 20 minute conversation which didn't answer my question. Ali told me that they don't use sugar, only fruit; which was a great surprise because the pastries I've seen for the most part did not have visible pieces of fruit. Amazed, I asked what fruit they use in their graham crackers. He replied brown sugar, and then something about using MOSTLY fruit. At the end of the conversation he gave me his email address.

My impression is that the difference between healthy fruit and unhealthy sweeteners is the fiber which slows sugar absorption from whole fruits and vegetables. I don't understand how highly processed fruit, even fruit processed in-house, would be better than any other sweetener. My impression is that Chefables believes that if they start with fruit, regardless of how much they process and concentrat it the result will be healthy. Corn is made into high fructose corn syrup; beets are made into sugar; juice concentrates and honey are classed the same as refined sugar in recommendations from the American Heart Association. Why would highly processed fruit-based sweeteners be any better?

So I sent Ali at Chefables an email, asking if he could clear up my confusion. Chefables never replied. Lori, CCLC's regional director, asked me to stop asking about sugar content. She admitted that neither she nor the center director have background in nutrition.

"Chefables has been an incredible vendor for us, and many other CCLC's."
--Lori Walker, CCLC Regional Director

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Last updated 31 October 2013
© Anna Mitros
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