Family Style Meals in Child Care

  • Format: online
Family Style Meals in Child Care is a 2-hour, self-paced course that focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to make meals and snacks an enjoyable part of the day. The class combines brief lecture segments with photos and videos of effective mealtimes, an interview with a toddler teacher, a panel discussion of the barriers to family style meals and practical solutions to overcome them. The course concludes with an active planning process to implement this research-based approach to mealtimes. Throughout the class, the importance of the child care setting for promoting children's early nutrition learning and eating habits is emphasized. Family style meal service is viewed as "best practice" by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program. This course equips child care providers in center- and home-based settings with the knowledge and skills to plan for and implement family style meals. Successful completion of the course awards two child care clock-hours.

Instructor Information

Sara Gable has been engaged in practical and scholarly activity focused on children, families, and child care since the 1980’s.  In 1986, she completed an undergraduate internship at Syntex Corporation’s employee child care program in Palo Alto, CA.  During her Master’s degree studies, she was a lead teacher at Utah State University’s Child Development Lab and for her masters thesis, she conducted extensive in-home observations of mothers and their babies across the first year of life.  At Penn State, her PhD research involved naturalistically observing first-born toddlers in two-parent homes to characterize the co-parenting relationship.  Upon completing her PhD, she was a post-doc in the Department of Psychology at the University of Missouri, Columbia where she coordinated a federally-funded child abuse prevention demonstration project. 

 From 1996 to the present, she has been on the faculty at the University of Missouri, first in Human Development and Family Studies and now in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.  At MU, she has conducted research about the child care workforce, modifiable factors associated with the onset and persistence of childhood obesity, and the social, emotional, and academic consequences of obesity that persists across childhood and into adolescence.  Her first book, The States of Child Care: Building a Better System, was published in 2014 by Teachers College Press.       

 As a State Extension Specialist for University of Missouri Extension, she has created and taught educational programs for child care providers, served on numerous state child-care-related agency advisory boards, and assisted with the Missouri Child and Adult Care Food Program’s Eat Smart and MOve Smart initiatives. 

Course Overview

Family Style Meals in Child Care focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to make meals and snacks more enjoyable. The 2-hour, on-demand, self-paced class combines brief lecture segments with photos and videos of effective mealtimes, an interview with a teacher of toddlers, and a panel discussion of the barriers to family-style meals and practical solutions to overcome those obstacles. The class concludes with an active planning process to implement this research-based approach to mealtimes. There are three quizzes that must be passed at 80% in order to progress to the next unit.

This 2-hour course can be taken over a 30-day period.  After 30 days, your registration will expire.  This means that you can take the course during blocks of time that fit your schedule.

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