Top 5 Reasons We Need Farm to Preschool
- on October 29, 2013
Everyone believes that children deserve the healthiest start in life. However, the health of our youngest members of society is in decline. Formerly known as Families, Farmers and Educator United, Healthy Sprouts, our community’s Farm to Preschool program reaches over 1,000 children annually. Without community support, our efforts to connect children to healthy food will end in February 2014. Here are the top 5 reasons we need farm to preschool:
French fries are children’s favorite “vegetable.” According to the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), by 18 months of age, French fries are the most commonly consumed “vegetable.” The study also reveals that half of all 7 – to 8- month old babies eat dessert daily while one-third of all 7- to 24-month old babies do not eat vegetables at all. Knowing that dietary patterns are established within the first five years of life, Healthy Sprouts works to connect children ages one through six with healthy food in a myriad of ways: Gardening, cooking, taste tests, farm field trips, our Root for Food curriculum and on-site Community Supported Agriculture are all ways that we facilitate children’s healthy eating. Our experience is that children can and do love vegetables if given the opportunity to explore them with all of their senses!
Most children believe that food comes from the grocery store. Children are increasingly unaware of where their food originates. When asked, many children know only that it comes from the grocery store, convenience store, or the second window of a fast food chain. Yet, children are thrilled to experience a real connection to where their food comes from. Healthy Sprouts facilitates children’s learning gardens at centers and in-home care providers. We have had the pleasure of seeing children pick spinach, tomatoes, green beans, and other vegetables right out of the garden and eat them with enthusiasm. We know that children learn best through experience. The word “healthy” may mean very little to a small child; however, having the opportunity to plant and watch a radish grow makes them excited to taste it! In addition to teaching them how to grow food, Healthy Sprouts connects children to local farmers through field trips and on-site Community Supported Agriculture. We’ve seen how a tomato grown by Farmer Rolf is much more interesting to a young child than one with which they have no connection.
One in three children will develop diabetes. If not curtailed, the health related consequences of overweight and obesity threaten to make this the first generation of children to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Healthy Sprouts provides training to early educators about health and nutrition, teaches parents about healthy food choices, cooking, and gardening, and introduces children to the wonderful world of vegetables through taste tests, educational gardens, and hands-on cooking. We work to establish a love of healthy food at an early age so that children can realize their full potential and live long, healthy lives.
1.6 billion dollars is spent annually promoting junk food to our children.
According to Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, on TV alone, the average child sees 5,500 food commercials a year that advertise junk food such as soft drinks, candy, and high-sugar breakfast cereals. U.S. corporations profit from unhealthy eating and target the youngest members of our society. Conversely, Healthy Sprouts supports local farmers of fresh and healthy food. By connecting families with farm fresh locally produced food through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), local farmers have earned over $160,000 over the course of the past three years. In addition to CSAs, Healthy Sprouts connects families to farmers’ markets and other sources of local food in our community. Our continued presence is needed to facilitate these important connections that help sustain and grow our local economy.
Our most vulnerable children are at the highest risk for undernourishment.
The paradox of poverty is that low-income and racial-ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are often overfed but poorly nourished. National statistics show that 1 in 2 minority children are overweight or obese. We need funding so that over the next year, Healthy Sprouts can continue working with our centers and in-home care providers that serve a range of socioeconomic and racial-ethnic children in our community. We want to expand our outreach to those at most risk for poor nourishment in the effort to create not only healthier children but a more just society.
We cannot continue this important work without your donation. Please contribute today to save this program that helps children experience a healthy start in life.
Support healthy kids by contributing to our fundraising campaign: Indigogo: http://igg.me/at/healthysprouts/x/5203661, find us at http://www.dccda.org/food-education.shtml, or mail a donation to: DCCDA 1525 W. 6th St. Lawrence KS 66044