Mealtime Environment Course: Overview

Welcome to the Mealtime Environment course. This course is designed to serve as a resource and training tool for child care and development administrators, directors, teachers, family day care home providers (referred to in this course as caregivers or providers), and food service personnel. Families with children participating in child care may also find the course information useful.

The Mealtime Environment course provides information to help you create a mealtime environment that is enjoyable, safe, and supportive for both children and adults.


The Mealtime Environment course is divided into three modules. Each module begins with an Overview/Objectives section, followed by useful information and resources.

Module 1: Creating a Pleasant Mealtime Environment 
This module provides information to help you plan and organize family style meals to create a pleasant mealtime environment. You will find suggestions for using tools and utensils that will facilitate children’s emerging skills. You will also find a checklist for evaluating your eating environment so that you can identify possible improvements.

Module 2: Creating a Healthy Mealtime Environment
This module provides specific steps to address the safety, health, and well-being of children during mealtime. You will learn strategies for planning menus, improving nutrition, cleaning and sanitizing, and managing food allergies. You will also learn guidelines to help prevent accidents and choking.

Module 3: Creating a Successful Mealtime Environment
This module covers best practices that you can implement before, during, and after meals to enhance learning, comfort, and social interaction. Specific strategies for handling challenging behaviors at mealtime are covered, and you will learn how well-planned transitions can add to the success of the mealtime environment.

Course Length

This course is self-paced. However, it will take approximately one hour and 30 minutes to complete the entire course in one sitting or about 30 minutes per module. If you are unable to complete the entire course or a module in one sitting remember to note where you ended your session.

Certificate of Completion

You will be required to take a comprehensive test at the end of this course in order to obtain a Certificate of Completion and Professional Growth Hours. To pass this final test you must score 75 percent or higher. Go to Professional Growth Hours for detailed instructions.


When you complete the course, we invite you to use our self-assessment system, Transforming Our Nutrition Environment (TONE) , to assess your child care program’s child nutrition environment. To learn more about your site’s mealtime environment complete the Creating Enjoyable, Safe, and Supportive Mealtime Experiences Self-assessment  tool to discover your program’s strengths and weaknesses. If necessary, use the Action Plan to outline steps to improve your mealtime environment.