New partnership to foster healthier food habits in early childhood

December 10, 2008

Montreal, December 10, 2008 - A group of nutritionists from Extenso, the Université de Montréal's human nutrition referral centre, is teaming up with chefs from the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) to provide culinary expertise to Quebec daycares and early childhood centres. The goal is to help childcare centres develop healthier and tastier meals and snacks for kids.

The nutrition team will provide its expertise to 100 childcare centres, half of which will be recruited from disadvantaged communities from across the province, free of charge. Researchers will begin by visiting interested childcare centres to analyze their current food preparation methods and to meet with cooks and educators. New cooking approaches for healthier cuisine and an optimum quality/price ratio will be jointly developed with childcare centres to reflect their needs.

"Our main objective is to bolster knowledge in nutrition, food practices and culinary techniques among childcare facilities," says Marie Marquis, director of the project and professor in the Université de Montréal's Department of Nutrition. "Healthy lifestyles and tastes develop in early childhood. Given that nearly seven out of 10 children today attend childcare, these sites are the best place to introduce new approached to food."

A three-part projectThe project will involve three phases over three years: Part I will address the kitchen managers of childcare centres in winter 2009, Part II will target childcare educators in 2010; Part III will address parents in 2011.

The research team will share recipe collections, training videos, menus and tips with managers of childcare food services. A permanent call centre will be established to provide customized culinary and nutritional information to participating childcare facilities.

All research will be conducted by the Université de Montréal Department of Nutrition. The non-profit organization Extenso, the Université de Montréal's Referral Centre on Human Nutrition, will oversee the project with the assistance of the ITHQ Foundation.

"Currently there is very little information on the food services of Quebec childcare facilities," says nutritionist Nathalie Jobin of the Université de Montréal and Extenso. "We have a lot to learn from the childcare centres over the next three years. By learning about needs and restrictions of childcare managers, we can develop tailor-made tools that will contribute to early childhood nutrition."
-end-
Partners in research:

The project will be subsidized over three years by the Management Corporation of the Fund for the Promotion of a Healthy Lifestyle. The Fund for the Promotion of a Healthy Lifestyle is the result of partnership between the Government of Quebec and the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation. Thanks to this grant, childcare centres will benefit from free tips, tools and advice of nutritionists and chefs.

On the Web:

About the Université de Montréal: www.umontreal.ca/english/index.htm
About the Université de Montréal Department of Nutrition: www.mdnut.umontreal.ca
About the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec: www.ithq.qc.ca/en/index.php

Media contact:
Julie Gazaille
Press Attaché
Université de Montréal
Phone: 514-343-6796
Email: j.cordeau-gazaille@umontreal.ca

University of Montreal

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