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State regulations to support children's cultural and religious food preferences in early care and education

Objective In July 2018 the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics released a benchmark encouraging early care and education (ECE) programs, including child care centers and family child care homes, to incorporate cultural and religious food preferences of children into meals. We examined the extent to which states were already doing so through their ECE licensing and administrative regulations prior to the release of the benchmark. This review may serve as a baseline to assess future updates, if more states incorporate the benchmark into their regulations. Methods For this cross-sectional study, we reviewed ECE regulations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia (hereafter states) through June 2018. We assessed consistency with the benchmark for centers and homes. We conducted Spearman correlations to estimate associations between the year the regulations were updated and consistency with the benchmark. Results Among centers, eight states fully met the benchmark, 11 partially met the benchmark, and 32 did not meet the benchmark. Similarly for homes, four states fully met the benchmark, 13 partially met the benchmark, and 34 did not meet the benchmark. Meeting the benchmark was not correlated with the year of last update for centers (P=0.54) or homes (P=0.31). Conclusions Most states lacked regulations consistent with the benchmark. Health professionals can help encourage ECE programs to consider cultural and religious food preferences of children in meal planning. And, if feasible, states may consider additional regulations supporting cultural and religious preferences of children in future updates to regulations. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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