Celeste Joyner, Children’s College, Baltimore, MD
Two vegetarians, one pescatarian (who eats fish but no other meat), five omnivores. How does one provider feed such a diverse group of eaters?
Fresh, healthy foods, meat optional.
How She Did It:
Celeste Joyner spends weekends at farms and farmer’s markets where she shops for the freshest and healthiest foods she can find: kale, collard greens, berries, melons–whatever is at peak season. About five years ago, Celeste accepted a child into her program who was a vegetarian. She started developing menus suitable for that child, and the other seven children she cared for whom she cared. A typical lunch would be homemade rice and beans, with or without ground turkey. Celeste soon developed a reputation as a provider skilled in accommodating children with special dietary needs.
According to Celeste, after children have been in her program for a while, they generally become more experimental eaters. Many now prefer the vegetarian options she offers, and have influenced how their parents cook at home. One of the ways Celeste encourages the children to try new foods is by holding them to her two-bite rule. A child is expected to taste a food—one bite—on two separate occasions. If the child still doesn’t like the food, it won’t be served to them again.
On Celeste’s Wish List:
More space. The children are so well-fueled by the nutritious snacks and meals Celeste serves, they have energy to spare.