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Thesis (M.S.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1974. Department of Food and Nutrition.


Copyright 1974, the author. Used by permission.


Recent research in child development has demonstrated that a child care center with adequate staffing and parent involvement can provide a sound program which can help children to grow and develop socially, intellectually, and physically. An essential service of these centers is a food program. In addition to providing nourishment, the program may also influence children’s food habits and attitudes toward food. It is important that parents and the child care center staff coordinate their efforts in providing adequate nutrition to meet growth and energy needs of each child.

Because adequate nutrition during the preschool years has a direct influence on physical growth and mental development, this has become a topic of current interest in research. The Department of Food and Nutrition of the University of Nebraska conducted a study supported by the United States Department of Agriculture of food service in child care centers receiving federal assistance through the Special Food Service Program for children. This was a Midwest and Southwest Regional study representing eighteen mid-American states. The present investigation was undertaken in conjunction with the U.S.D.A. bi-regional study. The primary goal of this investigation was to obtain information about the nutrition knowledge and attitudes of the parents of children in child care centers and of the teachers, managers and cooks involved in the child care programs.

This paper will present a review of the literature covering previous studies of the nutritional intakes of preschool children and of the nutrition knowledge and attitudes of mothers of preschool children and of groups of people believed to influence nutritional behavior of others.

The nutrition knowledge and attitudes were studied for 406 parents of children in child care centers and for 37 managers, 107 teachers and 33 cooks from fifty Head Start, day care and recreation centers (twenty-one from Nebraska, fifteen from Kansas, and fourteen from Texas). Centers were chosen to give a wide representation of ethnic groups, location size and type of program.

Questionnaires were developed to measure the participants’ knowledge of and attitude toward (1) meal planning, food preparation and service, (2) school food service programs, (3) nutrition education, (4) food composition, (5) child nutrition, (6) child feeding practices, (7) permissiveness in child feeding practices and (8) general nutrition information. A set of four questionnaires with one for each of the groups being tested (parents, managers, teachers and cooks) were constructed with a total of fifty questions each.

Advisor: Hazel Metz Fox