It’s no secret that the best way to encourage healthy eating habits in our kids is to offer them nutritious meals from the get-go. Wholesome snacks and meals have always been on the Momentum menu, and recently our school partnered with Real Food for Real Kids (RFRK), a Toronto-based catering company dedicated to inspiring a lifetime of healthy eating for children and the families who love them.
For more than a decade, RFRK has been changing the way kids eat in schools and childcare centres across the city. What started as a passion project for a mom who wanted her child to have healthier options at daycare has grown into a business that serves more the 15,000 kids daily throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
RFRK founder, Lulu Cohen-Farnell, grew up in Paris, where her family was always making nutritious meals from scratch, and she fell in love with cooking. In 2004, when her first child was starting daycare in Toronto, she had a hard time finding a centre that provided healthy snacks and meals, so she decided to send her son with homemade food each day. It wasn’t long before the centre asked for her help to improve the menu for everyone at the centre.
“I’ve always been a big proponent of feeding children healthy, natural food – even before they are born,” she says. “When I started looking for childcare centres, I found the common denominator was highly processed foods. It wasn’t because people didn’t care. It was more about not having any other options. It was very frustrating for me that the industry could feed little babies this damaging food, knowing that it’s so important to instill happy, healthy eating habits from a young age.”
The first childcare centre to serve Real Food for Real Kids was the YMCA Family Development Centre in downtown Toronto. The program has flourished; filling a gap in the system and helping parents raise well-fed kids at an affordable cost (currently, the program is less than $5 per day per kid).
RFRK breaks away from the stereotypical kids’ menu of nuggets, pizza, burgers and fries, instead offering up tasty nutrient-dense dishes, such as garbanzo bean tajine with couscous and mini broccoli, plus melon for dessert. Or falafel bites with a whole-wheat wrap, dilly dip and cucumber and tomato salad, finished off with a juicy orange.
With RFRK at Momentum Montessori, our kids experience a globally inspired menu, packed with fruits, veggies and whole grains, free from artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners. Meat, fish, dairy and tofu are sourced from Ontario farms and Canadian coastlines, with a focus on organic, wild-caught, or pasture-raised, antibiotic-free ingredients. All meals and snacks are peanut- and tree nut-free.
“We want to provide the best quality of food for our students. We promote healthy, active living and RFRK provides a wonderful variety of healthy food and is able to accommodate their menu for even the pickiest of eaters,” says Momentum principal, Ryan Murray. “I took a tour of their entire facility and met any of their staff. Everyone was incredibly professional and cares about the quality of their product. I researched many different catering companies and checked what other child care facilities in Toronto were serving their children and I believe RFRK surpassed all of our competitors. It was a very easy decision.”
RFRK is on a mission to expand kids’ palates. “I hear parents say ‘My child is a picky eater’, but that is just labelling a child,” Cohen-Farnell says. You have to expand their mind in the same way you teach a kid how to ride a bike or do math. You’re not going to tell your kid to forget about it, you find ways to encourage them. They are learning eaters, not picky eaters. Parents and caregivers set the example with their own eating habits.”
At Momentum Montessori, our entire school eats together. “We build a family-style environment where students are motivated to try new types of food and learn the importance of table etiquette and togetherness,” says Principal Murray. “The staff and students eat together and everyone shares stories and songs. Our students are then able to request a second helping if desired and use the correct Momentum Montessori language, or they are able to bus their plates and prepare for nap time.”
We’re delighted to offer only the healthiest snacks and meals to our kids at Momentum, knowing it will fuel their learning and discovery throughout the day. The full monthly RFRK November Menu for Momentum students is available here.
Momentum Montessori is a private pre-school located in Toronto’s Regent Park neighborhood, providing before and after school childcare. Our exceptional educational program embraces diversity, discovery and child-led learning.