January 2022 Mealtime Memo: Turn It Up!

January 2022 Mealtime Memo: Turn It Up!

January 2022

“Turn It Up!”

Happy New Year! This month, we will “Turn It Up” to harness as much immunity as we can. Building up our immunity helps keep us healthy and get sick less often. Our immune system is our body’s first line of defense in fighting colds and viruses. Fortunately, we can help strengthen and enhance it by making healthy lifestyle choices and teaching children to do the same.

We will be turning up the music, nutrition, and movement, all in an effort to make our immune systems stronger. We are ready for January with music, nutrition, and movement!

Here are three ways to help boost your immune system:

Turn Up the Music

Turn Up the Music

Research shows that listening to music increases the body’s natural immune system and reduces levels of stress hormones. The presence of music is also associated with greater food intake of finicky eaters. Turn on music at the beginning (or end) of meal or snack time as a transition activity. It is a fun way to direct children between activities.

There are many positive benefits of turning up the music! As children listen to music, they develop language skills and learn about rhythm and sound. Sharing music and favorite songs with children can be a powerful way to connect. Singing and dancing together creates bonds that add to good feelings and helps to improve immunity. Here are some mealtime songs to incorporate into a 2022 mealtime music playlist.

  • “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” Shirley Temple
  • “Apples and Bananas,” Raffi
  • “Banana Song,” City Stomp
  • “On Top of Spaghetti,” Tom Glazer
  • “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,” The Muppet Show
  • “C Is for Cookie,” Sesame Street
  • “Bagel,” Music for Aardvarks
  • “All Around the Kitchen,” Dan Zanes
  • “Victor Vito,” Laurie Berkner
  • “Soon as We Cook Sweet Potatoes,” Pete Seeger
  • “Cheesy Chant,” The Monkey Collection
  • “If All the Rain Drops,” Barney
  • “I’m a Little Teapot,” The Countdown Kids
  • “Spoonful of Sugar,” Mary Poppins

Turn Up Nutrition

Turn Up Nutrition

Nutrition is a factor in staying healthy. Focus on providing a colorful plate that is full of variety and choices. Research shows that a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables helps to enhance our body’s immune system.

Consider including some of these colorful choices:

  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard, and mustard greens)
  • Crunchy vegetables (carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower)
  • Tangy and tart citrus fruits (oranges, clementines, limes, and lemons)
  • Sweet and juicy berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
  • Red and orange vegetables (tomatoes and sweet potatoes)

These fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins C and D and the minerals zinc and selenium, which are associated with helping our immune system fight off infections and viruses. Known as “power foods” these colorful choices also contain vitamins A, E, B, and K, as well as the minerals potassium, folate, and magnesium—all of which help keep the body healthy.

How can you help children add more color to their plates? Make sure your menus offer colorful fruits and vegetables and teach them to focus on how many colors are on their plate for a lifetime of healthy eating. Consider offering a healthy protein with a fruit, like nut butter and apples, or add lots of vegetables to soups and stews.

Did you know that children who eat more fruits and vegetables also have better mental health? Nutrition has an impact not only in physical health and well-being, but on our mental health too.

Turn Up Movement

Turn Up Movement

Movement of any kind is associated with an increased immune response. After you turn up the music, try adding movement to it! Many kids love to move their body to music. Encourage them to play follow the leader, make snow angels, have dance parties, jump in place, or even go for a walk. All of these movements will add to making movement fun and playful.

Keep music, nutrition, and movement in mind this January as we build our immunity!

January Food Themes

January 1 – New Year’s Day and Global Family Day

This is a great day to turn it up! Take a look at these ICN resources to turn up movement.

It is also the perfect day to turn up nutrition. Consider these tips:

Now is also the time to start planning a garden. Whatever you plan today, have fun and turn it up!

January 4 – National Spaghetti Day

Spaghetti can be prepared in many ways with different sauces, toppings, and noodles. It can be a colorful plate option when vegetables are used in the sauce along with a leafy green salad. Try this traditional spaghetti with meat sauce recipe from USDA.

Children can move like a noodle as part of the celebration, dancing to the song “On Top of Spaghetti,” by Tom Glazer. All three immune-boosting themes can be incorporated into National Spaghetti Day. Turn up music. Turn up the nutrition. Turn up movement.

January 4 – National Trivia Day

Who doesn’t like trivia? Have fun with staff and children playing trivia games. Use these questions to get started.

  • What are dried grapes called?
    • Answer: Raisins
  • What gives oranges and carrots their orange color?
    • Answer: Beta-carotene
  • What part of the plant becomes the fruit?
    • Answer: Flower
  • Which is the only fruit with seeds on the skin?
    • Answer: Strawberries
  • What happens if you put old eggs in cold water?
    • Answer: They float
  • What is a dried plum called?
    • Answer: Prune

January 11 – National Milk Day

Serving milk is even more fun with a hand-decorated cow cup. Have children decorate a white foam cup with art and craft supplies to make their cow cup of milk. Use the opportunity to talk about where milk comes from and the importance of nutrition. Milk contains essential nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, and potassium. Drinking milk can strengthen bones and teeth, aid in a healthy stomach, keep skin clear, and help with a good night’s sleep.

Fun Facts About Milk

  • Farmers claim that cows with names produce more milk than cows without names.
  • Milk is the official state beverage in 21 states.
  • Milk can come from nuts and beans, such as almond, cashew, and soybeans.

January 17 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Celebrate by making “I have a dream” clouds. Draw a shape of a cloud on some colorful construction paper, cut it out, and write out each child’s dream. Children can decorate their cloud. Hang the clouds up to share everyone’s dream. In honor of MLK Day, there are several ways to celebrate. Begin by reading one of the following books:

  •  “Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King,” by Jean Marzollo
  • “Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Doreen Rappaport
  • “We March,” by Shane W. Evans

January 29 – National Puzzle Day

Puzzles are a classic game for children and all ages. Puzzle play builds cognitive and fine motor skills in children. It is also a great time to practice social, emotional, and language skills. There are so many varieties and types of puzzles with different levels of difficulty. Even infants can explore stacking two pieces together. Make it a puzzle kind of day by using puzzles at playtime and celebrate each piece!

Beautiful Toddler Listening To Music Using Headphones Standing At Kindergarten

Fun Food Facts!

  • Indiana is sometimes referred to as the popcorn state.
  • Iowa is the ice cream capital of the world.
  • Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the USA.
  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee beans.
  • Vanilla is the USA’s favorite flavor of ice cream.

What’s in Season for January?

Check these favorites out as they are at their peak ripeness and may be found on sale at your local market, farm-stand, or grocer. Incorporate as many as you can in meals and snacks to boost immunity.


  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwifruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Pumpkin


  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Collard Greens
  • Herbs
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Rutabagas
  • Sweet Potatoes & Yams
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash

January Jokes

  • Knock, knock
    • Who’s there?
  • Berry
    • Berry who?
  • Berry nice to meet you. Can I come in now?
  • Knock, knock
    • Who’s there?
  • Ketchup
    • Ketchup who?
  • Ketchup and I’ll tell you!
  • Knock, knock
    • Who’s there?
  • Orange
    • Orange who?
  • Orange you glad I like you.
  • Knock, knock
    • Who’s there?
  • Banana
    • Banana who?
  • Banana split!
  • Knock, knock
    • Who’s there?
  • Soup
    • Soup who?
  • Superman!

Sneak Peek: February Food Themes

  • Black History Month
  • Dental Health Month
  • February 2 – National Tater Tot Day
  • February 9 – National Pizza Day
  • February 14 – Valentine’s Day
  • February 17 – Random Act of Kindness Day
  • February 21 – National Family Day and President’s Day


Childs, C. E., Calder, P. C., & Miles, E. A. (2019, August 16). Diet and Immune Function. Nutrients, 11(8), 1933.

Gabriel, M. (2021, November 18). 100 Fun food facts you won’t believe are true. The Fact Site. https://www.thefactsite.com/100-random-food-facts/

Institute of Child Nutrition, Child Nutrition Recipe Box. (2021). Spaghetti with meat sauce – USDA recipe for child care centers. https://theicn.org/cnrb/recipes-for-centers-main-dishes/spaghetti-and-meat-sauce-ground-beef-and-ground-pork-usda-recipe-for-cacfp/

Rebecchini, L. (2021, December). Music, mental health, and immunity. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666354621001770

Simpson, R. J., Campbell, J. P., Gleeson, M., Krüger, K., Nieman, D. C., Pyne, D. B., Turner, J. E., & Walsh, N. P. (2020). Can exercise affect immune function to increase susceptibility to infection?. Exercise immunology review, 26, 8–22. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32139352/

University of Nebraska—Lincoln. (2021). Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources UNL Food. https://food.unl.edu/

Willner, B. (2021). Food jokes for kids. Squiggley’s Jokes and Riddles. https://www.squiglysplayhouse.com/JokesAndRiddles/FoodJokes.php

About Mealtime Memo

Mealtime Memo (MTM) is focused on nutrition and wellness in child care settings and is specifically intended for use by child care professionals who participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The objective is to provide research-based best practices for planning, preparing, and/or serving nutritious, safe, and child-friendly meals in child care settings operating the CACFP.

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Please note: To ensure MTMs provide the most accurate, up-to-date information, any references to Federal regulations, nutritional standards, and other best practices are considered current at the time of publication. Please be advised that this information is NOT updated to reflect any changes/revisions beyond the publication date. In addition, all MTMs published prior to 2017 have been archived and are no longer available on our website. If you need access to an archived MTM or for questions on the latest regulations and standards, please contact ICN’s Help Desk at helpdesk@theicn.org or 1-800-321-3054.

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2022-06-07T10:25:04-05:00January 11th, 2022|

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