Melissa Elsmo

The Day Nursery, located in a stately tutor on Randolph Street in Oak Park, has been committed to providing the best home-cooking for the children enrolled in their early childhood programs for more than 100 years. 

Mealtime at the bustling preschool provides an opportunity for children to come together around the school-family table. Young scholars enjoy a family-style meal and thoughtful conversation with their fellow students and teachers.  At the same time children are learning about nutrition and self-help they are also honing their evolving social skills. 

I popped over to The Day Nursery this week to check out the lunchtime happenings. On the menu? Grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh broccoli, pineapple chunks, and milk. 

“Each month we purchase over 150 gallons of milk,” says Day Nursery Executive Director, Cari Christoff, “and it takes almost 10 pounds of cheese to make the grilled cheese sandwiches for one lunch.”

The children were eager to eat and chat; they shared their favorite menu items include “build your own” sandwiches, spaghetti and turkey meatballs, and Chef Beatrice’s baked chicken wings. Christoff remembers one evening at pick up time a child exclaimed he’d had the “best day ever!” When  asked why, the young boy responded, “We had eggs AND tacos today!”

It’s no wonder the students of the Day Nursery are happy about their meals; everything coming out of the kitchen on the premises is made from scratch–yep, all 72,000 meals and snacks they serve each year! Their dedicated cook introduces fresh menu items regularly and teachers work hard to enhance these opportunities for children to try foods they may not have been exposed to in the past. The Day Nursery is consistently  mindful of dietary restrictions and respectful of cultural differences among the children; everyone has a seat in The Day Nursery dining room.

Enjoy this glimpse into meal time at the historic Day Nursery; they help children build lifetime memories and strong connections one meal at a time.

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