Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 4, 2013

Daycare food quality a serious issue for state

TAHLEQUAH — A move to reduce childhood obesity has recently taken center stage, but equally important is ensuring children who attend early childhood or daycare centers receive enough – and the right kinds – of food to eat.

Jean Parker, owner of Miss Jean Parker’s Daycare, is a certified childcare worker. Her home-based care facility is rated two stars by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and receives federal funds through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Child Nutrition Program.

“We provide breakfast, a morning snack, lunch and an afternoon snack each day,” said Parker. “Two- and 3-year-olds need healthy snacks, and more than just one, because they don’t eat large quantities at any given time. Because we are in a low-income area, I am rated a Tier 1 recipient, as are most – if not all – the daycare operators in this area.”

According to the USDA website dedicated to child nutrition, Tier 1 day care homes are those in low-income areas, or those in which the provider’s household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal income poverty guidelines. Sponsoring organizations may use elementary school free and reduced-price enrollment data or Census block group data to determine which areas are low-income.

Documentation provided by Parker shows Tier 1 status provides $1.27 per child per day for breakfast, $2.38 for lunch, and 71 cents per snack. The program is open to all children, regardless of income.

“I receive funding monthly,” said Parker. “And there’s lots of paperwork involved. I have to provide proof of each child’s enrollment and attendance, as well as proof they received the meals I prepared.”

Parker regularly attends training for food safety and preparation.

“I went to two training sessions in 2012,” she said. “They help us with any questions we might have, provide us with the most up-to-date guidelines and information, because they are very strict about what we feed the children.”

According to Parker, meals must include a protein, two servings of fruits or vegetables, one grain and milk as a beverage. The protein must also be labeled “CN” on the packaging, proving the item has been approved by the USDA for participating child nutrition programs.

“With [First Lady] Michelle Obama’s obesity reduction plan, we now serve either 2 percent or skim milk, instead of whole milk,” said Parker. “They say the program is working and childhood obesity is coming down.”

Parker said to remain in compliance with the program, she has to submit detailed menus every two weeks, outlining what the children will be having for breakfast, lunch and both snacks.

“I send mine in a month in advance,” said Parker. “We have an auditor who works through the Kibois Community Action Food Program, who visits the site every 60 days unannounced to check for compliance.”

According to Parker, the auditor reviews all the required documentation, including attendance records, enrollment records and menus.

“She also thoroughly checks the kitchen itself, including the thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer, along with inspecting the overall cleanliness of the kitchen,” said Parker. “She checks our food storage, too. There are a lot of rules, but they are there for a reason. She even makes sure the kids wash are washing their hands properly before and after meals.”

The Press recently received a report that a local daycare center was serving children “junk food” or unapproved snacks during the day. If true, Parker said, that business is taking a risk, because failure to comply with USDA regulations can have severe consequences, depending on the seriousness of the infraction.

“If things aren’t as they should be, a daycare can be completely cut off from the USDA program and could be prevented from re-applying for assistance for seven years,” said Parker. “For less severe problems, the auditor may recommend more frequent inspections.”

To make sure local auditors are performing up to standards, a second tier of compliance checks are also in place, said Parker.

“It’s kind of the auditor’s auditor,” said Parker. “They come in once a year and monitor documentation and visit daycare homes and centers to make sure the auditor’s records are being kept properly. There’s a really good system of checks and balances. Because it’s federal funding, it would be a federal crime to take the money and not use it appropriately.”

While she adheres to the guidelines and provides healthy foods, Parker also ensures none of her children goes hungry.

“If my kids ask for seconds, I give it to them,” said Parker. “As you can see, not a one of them has a weight or obesity problem. Little kids just burn calories up quickly.”

On a larger scale, both the Cherokee Nation Child Development Center and the CN Early Childhood Unit provide USDA-approved meals, as well meeting routine standards for routine inspections and audits. Both programs participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program  through  the state of Oklahoma.

According to CN officials, children qualify based on family size and income. Both programs are reimbursed for meals served for all participating children, but directors at both programs say the CACFP doesn’t cover all their center costs for food, and use other resources to fill the gaps.

The CN Child Development Center is a three-star nationally accredited Early Childhood program that teaches up to 92 children, ages 6 weeks to 4 years, and provides a summer program for an additional 24 children, ages 5-11.

“On average, 62 percent of the center’s food costs is covered by CACFP,” said Deanna O’Laughlin, manager at CN Child Development Center. “The rest is paid through tuition and child care block grants.”

According to Verna Thompson, director of the CN Early Childhood Unit, the remainder of the costs of that food program is paid through program funds.

“We provide more than 5,000 breakfasts, 5,000 lunches, and 5,000 snacks per month,” said Thompson. “To participate in the CACFP, the programs make sure meal patterns and components are met daily, and that adequate portions are served at all times.”

At the Cherokee Nation, food production records are maintained and menus meet all required components, said Thompson.

“We ensure CACFP enrollment forms are kept on each child served, meal counts and attendance is maintained, and records are submitted by the 10th of each month,” said Thompson. “Food service staff are adequately trained through the state child nutrition program. Inspections are also met by Cherokee Nation Risk Management, Cherokee Nation Environmental Health and state officials.”

Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism