Mealtime Memo – November 2021

November 2021

Build Your Own (Food) Memories

The holidays are coming! Many of us associate holidays with festive foods and gatherings. Do you remember your favorite foods and the smells from your childhood?
Build Your Own (Food) Memories

Children actively learn from us and will build their own food memories. This month, let’s focus on getting children excited about new food ideas and making memories. They can take what they learn and share it with their family and vice versa!

Encourage children to build their own food memories by learning about foods and healthy eating over the holiday season. It is a wonderful opportunity to discuss food stories and traditions and to create a positive atmosphere around the table. Have children share stories about their favorite holiday nutritious foods. Children learn from each other, and sharing favorite holiday food stories can provide the basis for healthy living for a lifetime.

Take this opportunity to have children create a drawing showing them eating their favorite holiday meal or food. Children can place this drawing in a memory jar that can be kept near the eating area all month long. There are many food themes this month that will allow children to make food memories. The opportunities are endless. Have fun!

November Food Themes

National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month

Peanut butter is a staple packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, fibers, and healthy fats. It is the trifecta of nutrition, taste, and cost. There are so many fun ways to serve peanut butter, such as making a peanut butter jelly sandwich, serving with fruits and vegetables, or adding to smoothies. Some children may have an allergy to peanut butter. Use this month to celebrate all nut butters and nut-free alternatives such as sunflower seed butter. Sample different nut butters that everyone can enjoy!

During National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month, offer an open-face nut butter sandwich where children can build their own smiley face by placing cut strawberries, banana slices, apple slices, or celery on top of the nut butter.

Did you know that new guidelines from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend introducing peanut protein to infants around 6 months? New research shows that the early introduction of peanuts helps to prevent peanut allergy in susceptible children. Discuss early introduction of peanut proteins with each infant’s parent or guardian before introducing peanuts. Parents should discuss the introduction of peanut proteins with their healthcare provider. Use FARE’s Peanut Early Introduction Guidelines to offer parents a reference.

*Be aware: peanut butter is a choking hazard for infants, toddlers, and young children.*

  • Peanut butter can stick to the lining of the throat and windpipe, making a child unable to breathe. Only allow peanut butter that is spread thinly on a slice of bread or a cracker.
  • Use USDA’s Reducing the Risk of Choking in Young Children at Mealtimes resource for additional training and awareness.

Some recommended ways of adding peanut protein for infants are:

  • Thinning peanut butter with water, milk, or formula
  • Mixing powdered peanut butter with fruits, such as mashed bananas or pureed strawberries
  • Adding peanut butter powder to applesauce

National Fig Week (November 1–7)

This week is a fun chance to show children the great sensory and nutritional qualities of a new fruit—figs. Figs are rich in calcium, which helps build healthy bones, and fiber, which is important for gut health. Try a fresh fig for a healthy snack!National Fig Week (November 1–7)

National Sandwich Day (November 3)

Sandwiches are a very versatile, easy choice for children. With all the different food and bread combinations, the opportunities are endless! Look for whole grain bread, which is higher in fiber and vitamins, to help keep children feeling fuller, longer. Encourage them to build their own and try new flavors, such as a homemade pesto or red pepper and chicken sandwich, to broaden their taste buds this month. Check out this yummy tuna salad sandwich recipe from USDA!

When serving luncheon meats or other processed meats, ensure that the serving provides the required amount of meat/meat alternate components for meals and snacks. A child nutrition (CN) label or product formulation statement (PFS) is required for crediting documentation. When serving sandwiches to children, use only the required bread amount as listed in the meal patterns for each age group. Serving too much of one component, such as grains, may prevent a child from eating the other required nutritious meal components since they may be too full.

Limit serving processed meats accompanied by a CN Label or PFS to no more than one serving per week due to their high fat and sodium content. Consider potential choking hazards and cut meats into smaller pieces for younger children.

Due to the increased number of illnesses associated with Listeria monocytogenes and the consumption of unheated hot dogs and luncheon meats, the FDA has advised pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems to not eat hot dogs or luncheon meats unless they are reheated until steaming hot.

National Nachos Day (November 6)

Nachos are a crowd favorite among most children, so this will be an easy one! Set up a “Build Your Own Nacho Bar” and encourage kids to choose more than just chips and cheese. This bar may be a great opportunity to try fresh guacamole or chopped tomatoes, as well as ground beef substitutes, such as ground turkey or chicken, that are tasty with Mexican seasoning! Try this slow-cooker chicken recipe to serve on your nacho bar!

National Greek Yogurt Day (November 9)

National Greek Yogurt Day (November 9)

Greek yogurt is a delicious, protein-packed food that can be incorporated into many meals, such as breakfast parfaits, smoothies, creamy dips, or sauces. Greek yogurt is tasty when paired with homemade granola, fruit, and nut butter for a filling breakfast.

You can also mix it with Mexican seasoning and lime juice as a topping to your nacho bar! Try this homemade, Creamy Hummus recipe made with Greek yogurt. Offer it with veggie sticks and whole grain crackers for a snack or at mealtime.

Whip up this quick #CACFPCreditable veggie dip to serve with crisp summer veggies! Combine 1 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tsp dried dill, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Enjoy!

World Kindness Day (November 13)


This day provides an opportunity to reflect and acknowledge kindness. Promote small acts of kindness. World Kindness Day is a great day to “catch” children being kind. As you notice children being kind, take a moment to recognize and praise this inherent trait. Kind acts build on each other and can be contagious.

Suggested books for World Kindness Day:

  • The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
  • Be Kind by Pat Zestlow Miller
  • Hey Little Ant by Phillip Hoose and Hannah Hoose
  • You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

National Homemade Bread Day (November 17)

Homemade Bread Day!! What a fun way to engage children in the kitchen. Observe this day by baking your favorite bread. Get children to help you bake the bread by asking them to do age-appropriate tasks. They will enjoy being involved and eating the bread they helped bake. Consider this banana bread recipe from ICN’s Child Nutrition Recipe Box. National Homemade Bread Day offers another way to build great food memories!

Take a Hike Day (November 17)

For a successful hike day:

  • Be prepared. Have children wear walking shoes and appropriate outdoor weather gear.
  • Be flexible and patient. Incredible hikes can begin by simply going on a walk. Calling it a hike makes it feel more adventurous. Hike to a destination or go around the block. Hike in a park or on a trail. There are no rules.
  • Be safe.

Use these ideas to make Take a Hike Day even more engaging:

  • Make it a critter hunt. When hiking, stop to turn over logs, rocks, or pieces of bark to see what is hiding underneath. Children might discover beetles, spiders, worms, or roly-polies. Bring along a magnifying glass to get a closer look.
  • Walk like an animal. Take turns walking like different animals. Walk like a duck by squatting legs and flapping arms. Hop like a bunny with arms tucked into chest and hopping. Children can add animal noises too.
  • Find it. “First one to find a ____.” Children can try to find the object that is said. It can be a green leaf, a bird, a flower, or whatever is seen on the hike. Whoever finds the object first chooses the next object to find.
  • Follow me. Follow the leader. Follow the person’s movements ahead of you without running into them (or anyone else) taking turns for who gets to be the leader.
  • Make it a scavenger hunt. Before the hike, make a list with the children of objects that may be found, such as feathers, animal tracks, flowers, acorns, rocks, pine cones, and more. Add to the list during the hike.

Tie up your shoes, everyone! Let’s go outside! The goal is to have fun and enjoy the outdoors.

Suggested books for Take a Hike Day:

  • The Berenstain Bears Blaze a Trail by Stan Berenstain
  • The Hike by Alison Farrell
  • Sheep Take a Hike by Nancy E. Shaw

Harvest Activity: Thankful Pumpkin

All you need is a pumpkin and a permanent marker. Ask the children what they are thankful for. Take turns with each child and each teacher. Write the thanks on the pumpkin and display it. Feel free to add to the thanks all month long.

Suggested books:

  • 10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
  • Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anna Dewdney

Fun Facts About Peanuts

  • Peanut butter was initially made for people with no teeth.
  • Did you know peanuts have gone into outer space? Alan Shepard, an American astronaut, took peanuts with him to the moon and named it “Astro-nuts.”
  • It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
  • Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the United States: Jimmy Carter and Thomas Jefferson.

Fun Facts about Peanuts

What’s in Season for November?

It’s time to enjoy some late fall produce! Earthy root vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, and assorted squash are plentiful and pack lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that offer a multitude of health benefits. During these holiday months, eat a rainbow of colors to keep healthy. Showcase fall produce and ask your children to share their favorite way to eat them.

Some fruits and vegetables that are in season for November are:


  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mandarin
  • Pomegranate
  • Pears


  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash (such as winter and butternut)

Have a wonderful start to the holiday season. Let’s all build memories in the best way possible. Share your kindness and joy for living.

Sneak Peak: November Food Themes

Sneak Peak: December Food Themes

  • Eat a Red Apple Day – December 1
  • Gazpacho Day – December 6
  • Pear Day – December 8
  • National Oatmeal Muffin Day – December 19

Sneak Peak: November Food Themes


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2017, September 7). Calcium.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2019, August 18). Easy ways to lighten up your Mexican fiesta.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2020, May 5). Slow-cooker chicken tacos recipe.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2021, February 3). What to look for in yogurt.

Food Allergy Research & Education. (2021). Peanut early introduction guidelines.

Institute of Child Nutrition, Child Nutrition Recipe Box. (2021). Banana bread squares – USDA recipe for child care centers.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2021). Food allergies.

National Peanut Board. (2021). 26 fun facts about peanuts & peanut butter.

National Peanut Board. (2021). Kid’s Health.

University of Nebraska—Lincoln. (2021). Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources UNL Food.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. (2020). Tuna salad sandwich.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. (2020, September). Reducing the risk of choking in young children at mealtimes.

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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