The smell of onions and garlic simmering in a sea of olive oil or the warm feeling that fills the heart when the smell of fresh baked bread overcomes you on a cool autumn day. These are some of the smells that help define what we do at LifeWays. The children who attend the center are offered a variety of foods in their organically grown and vegetarian meals. Freshly prepared food is a staple of the LifeWays ideology and is integral to the ideals we attempt to instill in the children.
In many early childhood centers, the food that the children encounter has been prepared in a secluded kitchen far from the eyes and noses of the children. I attended an early childhood center where the only experience of our food occurred when it was plopped down in front of us at the table. At LifeWays, the kitchen is central to the center and the children are able to peek their heads in and see what is happening. With our open kitchen design, the children are able to smell every meal and come to me to question what is cooking. The children can then form a connection to their food that is often lost in our modern fast food culture.
For many decades now in the United States we have operated under the idea of plentiful and filling food with little to no thought of health. We have given one of our most distinctly human activities, that of cooking, over to giant corporate entities that do not view health and nutrition as vitally important to the food supply. This has led to many early childhood centers providing plastic-wrapped foods high in fat, salt and processed sugar. At LifeWays, we eschew the plastic and the high fat, salt and sugar content for fresh, organic ingredients to produce vegetarian meals for the children. It is immensely important to teach good eating habits to children so that they may carry those habits with them as they grow and live their lives. I produce meals that may seem foreign to some children, but I have their health and the future of their choice of foods in mind as I craft in the kitchen.
It is very true that at LifeWays the difference is in the food. We work hard to provide healthy meals to the children and instill positive eating habits that will stay with the children throughout their lives. By allowing the children access to the kitchen they are able to see how their meal comes into being, which increases the likelihood that they will eat the sometimes foreign dish placed in front of them. With a knowledge of the kitchen and the food, LifeWays is aiding in laying the groundwork for a healthy diet that will keep the children hearty and well as they grow and discover their world.