Posts tagged with Children

Last Healthy Sprouts Highlight #5: Policies and Collaboration

As we look to the future of Farm to Child Care here in Douglas County, we keep our sights on sustainability. We want the Healthy Sprouts programming to continue on and not phase out like so many grant-funded projects. Not only do we want the efforts of our participants to be sustained, but we also want to expand our reach to the entire community and beyond. One way we are working toward this is through the development and improvement of wellness policies in child care settings. We've begun discussions with child care center directors about how current policies could be expanded upon to include the components of Healthy Sprouts. Several have already incorporated gardening, CSA and the Root for Food curriculum into their parent handbooks. Our next step is to facilitate a Wellness Policy Workshop to support this work and give directors the opportunity to work together in developing policies that will be effective.

Collaboration is another way that we work toward continuing this work. Melissa and I are both members of the LiveWell Lawrence Healthy Kids Work Group, which is developing policies to improve the health of children of all ages in our community. Melissa is also a collaborative trainer and coach for the National Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives Project through Nemours, which is implementing healthy kids initiatives around the country. I represent early care on the National Farm to School Network’s Peer Leadership Network, which is developing Farm to Preschool trainings that will be used nationally. We are also in the midst of building closer relationships to local organizations such as Just Food, the Lawrence Community Shelter and the Housing Authority. Our hope is to reach more children and families each year. We can’t reach this goal alone, and we greatly appreciate all of the participants, community members and organizational leaders who have stepped up to partner with us in growing healthier children from the start.

And now we need YOUR help! After reading our week-long series of highlights, we hope you have a better understanding for what we do and will consider showing your support by donating today.

Thank you to everyone who has already donated, and who will donate now.


Emily Hampton, Healthy Sprouts Coordinator

Early educators building a healthy plate

Early educators building a healthy plate by Healthy Sprouts

Starting a new garden

Starting a new garden by Healthy Sprouts

CSA and Family Engagement booths

CSA and Family Engagement booths by Healthy Sprouts


Healthy Sprouts Highlight #4: Food Education

Just a generation ago, people in our country were much more connected to their food source. In our conversations with people about growing food, most of them have not so distant memories of their parents’ or grandparents’ large garden. Many people were even raised on farms, especially here in the Midwest. Unfortunately, a few societal factors have created a gap in understanding where one’s food originates. Our culture of convenience means that many children think that their food comes from the second window of the drive through. This disconnection is one of the reasons that both children and adults are wary of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why Healthy Sprouts includes food education for young children, their early educators and families.

We developed an age-appropriate food-based curriculum called Root for Food that is implemented in our participants’ child care settings. The curriculum includes everything about food from plant science to foods around the world and cooking with kids. It is always a joy to make site visits and help early educators prepare a garden pizza, fruit smoothie or salad with the children. One provider commented on her experience saying, “The curriculum as a whole has me thinking more about food sources and nutrition. As I make changes based on the curriculum, it positively influences the diets of the children and their experiences with food and eating.” We also realize that in order to be effective at teaching children these concepts, early educators need to supplement their own knowledge. We offer early educator trainings on topics such as gardening, sourcing and preparing local foods, emotions and eating, and cooking with young children. Our Weekly Harvest newsletter encourages families to be involved as well. The newsletter includes an update on what children are learning through the curriculum, a local food news story, an in-season recipe, and a take-home activity to do with their child. Together, we are learning about, growing, preparing and eating healthy foods through Healthy Sprouts education.

Please donate to support the continuation of this program:

Cooking with kids

Cooking with kids by Healthy Sprouts

Root for Food training

Root for Food training by Healthy Sprouts


Healthy Sprouts Highlight #3: Family Engagement

Family engagement is crucial to Healthy Sprouts’ goal of connecting young children to healthy food. While our focus is on developing healthy habits in children from birth to age 6, we know that a significant component of our work is inspiring parents and caregivers to participate in gardening, cooking, and eating healthy so that the lessons learned at child care are reinforced and further cultivated at home. Through Healthy Sprouts, families have enthusiastically participated in a range of family engagement activities that include seed plantings, cooking classes, garden work days, taste tests, field trips and potluck meals. Children and their parents have tasted a range of fresh, local produce such as kohlrabi (many for the first time!), cauliflower, zucchini and spinach. It was an exciting day when we had a grandmother at Princeton Children’s Center try asparagus for the first time ever with her grandson at one of our tastings! We planted pumpkin seeds with families at Children’s Learning Center in early spring and were thrilled to find out in late summer that a thriving pumpkin plant inspired a family to grow an entire garden for the first time. Recently, families at Building Blocks Daycare Center gathered together on a fall afternoon to prepare their center’s garden for winter. Children worked alongside their parents and were delighted to find handfuls of green beans tucked inside a patch of weeds.

We need community support to continue inspiring families to garden, cook and eat healthy food. Donate to Healthy Sprouts today:

Melissa engaging with families

Melissa engaging with families by Healthy Sprouts

Farmers' Market Scavenger Hunt

Farmers' Market Scavenger Hunt by Healthy Sprouts

Fall Festival Feast!

Fall Festival Feast! by Healthy Sprouts


Healthy Sprouts Highlight #2: Local Farm Connections

Healthy Sprouts connects young children, their caregivers and families to local farms through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), field trips and outreach. CSA is a business arrangement between families and local farmers in which farmers drop off weekly vegetable subscriptions for families who subscribe during the growing season. Through our program, the vegetable shares are dropped at each family’s child care center. This arrangement makes it easy for families to access fresh, local food right where they pick up their child each day. It also generates new customers for our local farmers. Child care centers also benefit because the CSAs show that they support healthy eating and local foods. Our goal has always been to benefit everyone involved: the families, child care centers and farmers. We also build these relationships through field trips to local farms and the Farmers’ Market. Children and their caregivers have the opportunity to visit either a working farm or farm stand and get to know the farmer, harvest fruits or veggies to take home, go on a scavenger hunt, make crafts and/or interact with farm animals. We also use every possible opportunity to draw awareness to our local farms and the many ways families can access healthy foods from nearby. Most recently, we organized a scavenger hunt at the Downtown Farmers’ Market and 13 families attended. One family had never been to the market before and was excited to learn that they could use their SNAP benefits to purchase food there. Each day we hear stories that demonstrate that these efforts are making a difference in people’s lives. Join us tomorrow for more on family engagement!

Please donate to help continue this important program:

Digging potatoes at Maggie's Farm

Digging potatoes at Maggie's Farm by Healthy Sprouts

Farmer Jess

Farmer Jess by Healthy Sprouts


A Week of Healthy Sprouts Highlights

Next week (November 11-15), we will post a series of stories highlighting each part of our Farm to Child Care program.

Here are the topics you can look forward to reading about:

  • Children's gardens
  • Connections to local farmers
  • Family Engagement
  • Education
  • Policies and collaboration

The goal of this series is to draw awareness to the Healthy Sprouts program (formerly Families, Farmers and Educators United) at Douglas County Child Development Association. The program is in danger of losing funding, and we hope to help the community understand its value in growing healthier children in Douglas County. So join us!

Happy cookers!

Happy cookers! by Healthy Sprouts


Families Engage in Farm to Preschool One Bite at a Time

In late February of this year, we welcomed Melissa Freiburger as the newest addition to Families, Farmers and Educators United (FFEU). Melissa is our Family Engagement Facilitator and has spent the past couple of months creating new and exciting initiatives at all nine of our participating child care centers. In the first couple of years of the FFEU program, our CSA arrangements and the Weekly Harvest Newsletter were really the only ways we reached families of children in the participating child care centers. Initially, we were focused on reaching the children and early educators through gardening, training and the Root for Food curriculum. However, we became increasingly aware that the families of the participating children often were not aware of the program. Fortunately, we were awarded a Recognition Grant from the Kansas Health Foundation early this year and were able to hire Melissa to focus entirely on engaging families in the program.

As we all know, children are sponges. They soak up all of the information their brains are taking in throughout the day. Often, at child care, if they see their friends and teachers eating healthy fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to eat it themselves. We hear over and over that parents are shocked at the vegetables their child is willing to eat in child care that they would never touch at home. It’s fantastic that early educators are able to provide that environment and opportunity to eat healthy. However, if the child then goes home to a dinner devoid of anything green, those healthy habits are not reinforced. That’s why we decided that bringing families into the process of learning healthier habits was crucial.

The outcome we’re looking for is cultural change, which is a challenging task. Melissa is doing an amazing job at increasing the visibility of healthy eating, gardening and food preparation. The more that parents see these activities happening at their child care center, the more interested they become in trying new foods themselves. First, Melissa sent out a survey to families to find out what they would be interested in doing. The year’s plan has been based on those results. One activity that is now happening at each center is taste tests. Each month, Melissa will bring a new food for kids and families to try. In May, each center got to try spinach pesto! If kids tried the pesto, they could then vote by tossing a pom pom into the jar labeled, “I like it” or “not today.” Parents were shocked to see their child willing to try this new green food, and they were even more surprised when their child liked it! One boy was not sure he wanted to try it and was headed out the door. Once he was outside, he changed his mind and asked his dad to take him back inside to try it. What brave kids! The more they see their own families and friends trying new foods, planting gardens and cooking healthy meals, the more willing and excited they are to do the same.

The family engagement activities generally take place between 4 and 6pm to make sure to catch families when they pick up their child. Another activity came from an incredibly valuable new partnership with the Master Gardeners. We have been so lucky as to find several Master Gardeners who are excited about our program and have been willing to give their time and expertise to set up garden information booths at several of the centers. Children and parents alike have loved having these volunteers present at their centers to talk about gardening and take home their very own chive plants! Slowly, families are beginning to recognize Melissa at their center and they know she will have something fun to do. Other activities have included seed plantings, a composting lesson, CSA promotion, field trips to farms and the farmers’ market, planting parties and a cooking class by Harvesters that we hope to continue. We’ve also added a second page on to our Weekly Harvest newsletter that includes a take home activity involving gardening, cooking or exploring local foods in our community. As families learn more about the benefits of healthy eating, gardening and the local food system by engaging in fun activities with their child, we hope that the culture will slowly shift in a positive direction. Luckily, most people have a tradition of agriculture and healthy food preparation in their recent family history. We just need to remind each other that learning those self-sufficiency skills again can be fun and rewarding. We can then pass the knowledge down to the next generation and continue making progress toward a healthier and more engaged community.

Planting seeds at a CSA info booth

Planting seeds at a CSA info booth by Healthy Sprouts

Veggie Tasting!

Veggie Tasting! by Healthy Sprouts

"She loves eating vegetables!"

"She loves eating vegetables!" by Healthy Sprouts

Taking home chive plants from the Master Gardeners

Taking home chive plants from the Master Gardeners by Healthy Sprouts

Families checking out the Master Gardeners' booth

Families checking out the Master Gardeners' booth by Healthy Sprouts

Composting activity

Composting activity by Healthy Sprouts

Reply 2 comments from Healthy Sprouts Marilyn Hull

How YOU can support Farm to Preschool

Did you know there is a growing national Farm to Preschool movement? Douglas County is a part of the movement and you can be involved in a number of ways! But first, you might be wondering, "What is Farm to Preschool?" Farm to Preschool (or Child Care) has many of the same goals and activities as Farm to School programs. The National Farm to School Network increases access to local food and nutrition education to improve children’s health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities. Today, all 50 states participate in Farm to School in one way or another.

Now there is growing recognition that it is also important to reach children at an even younger age with access and education around local foods. Here is what has to say about the movement: “Farm to Preschool is a natural expansion of the national farm to school model and encompasses a wide range of programs and activities. Farm to Preschool serves the full spectrum of child care delivery: preschools, Head Start, center-based, programs in K-12 school districts, nurseries and family home care facilities. Its goals are multi-level and include: influencing the eating habits of young children while their preferences are forming; creating healthy lifestyles through good nutrition and experiential opportunities such as gardening; improving healthy food access at home and within the community; and ultimately influencing policies to address the childhood obesity epidemic through a local food lens. Program activities can take an environmental and systems change approach by serving preschoolers, teachers and child care providers, parents and family members, as well as communities.
Program components can include the following: sourcing local foods in school snacks and meals; promoting and increasing access to local foods for providers and families; offering nutrition and/or garden-based curricula; school gardening; in-class food preparation and taste testing; field trips to farms, farmers’ markets and community gardens; parent workshops; implementing preschool wellness policies which address Farm to Preschool principles; and influencing policies at the local, state or national level.”

Douglas County’s Farm to Preschool program, Families, Farmers and Educators United includes most of the above components. We would love more community involvement! So, how can you get involved? We have a few ideas!

• Post here, or email some of your favorite gardening, cooking, nutrition, or farm-related activities to do with young children. We might include your activity in our Root for Food curriculum!

• Subscribe to pick up fresh produce at one of the Community Supported Agriculture drop-off sites (contact Emily to find out your options).

• Send us examples of wellness policies that have been successful in your workplace or child care setting.

• Donate gardening supplies!

• Connect your organization to ours! If you are involved in health, gardening or local food systems through education, policy, research, outreach or any other way, we want to collaborate!

Let’s work TOGETHER toward a healthier, more sustainable community!

Contact Emily Hampton with ideas or more details:

Young children at a local farm

Young children at a local farm by Healthy Sprouts


DCCDA earns $77,500 to continue Families, Farmers and Educators United

The new year has started off on an exciting note for the Douglas County Child Development Association’s program, Families, Farmers and Educators United (FFEU). The Farm to Child Care program has been awarded multiple grants for continuation through 2013 that will allow for greater community collaboration and targeted family outreach. FFEU has spent the past two years working with directors and staff at nine area child care centers and 25 in-home child care providers throughout Douglas County. The program's coordinators have worked with participants to build gardens for the youngest children in our community to gain hands-on experience growing their own food. Early educators have spent countless hours using the Root for Food curriculum to teach young children all about food: where it comes from, how it gets from the farm to our plates, and how to make healthy choices. Nine local farms were matched with the participating nine child care centers and dropped off over 2,000 bags of local produce to subscribing families and centers. In 2012 alone, over $32,000 was kept within our local economy and went directly back to our local farmers through this Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangement. Seven early educator trainings were conducted within 2012 that gave child care providers tools and information related to food and nutrition that they could pass along to the children in their care. Directors at the child care centers all agreed to develop or improve upon wellness policies at their centers. 18 Weekly Harvest Newsletters were sent out to families over the CSA season, which included information about seasonal produce, recipes, Local Food News, and current lessons being conducted through the Root for Food curriculum. Through the following grant awards, FFEU will be able to continue and expand upon this important work:

  • United Methodist Health Ministry Fund $30,000
  • Topeka Community Foundation $7,500
  • Kansas Health Foundation $25,000
  • Ethel and Raymond F. Rice Foundation $15,000

Thanks to this tremendous support from local and respected foundations, FFEU will be making a more concerted effort to reach as many families as possible with opportunities to engage in the local food system and provide a healthier lifestyle for their children. As community leaders recognize the importance of engaging families and children still in their formative years, and with the inspiration and hard work of the families, farmers and educators involved, FFEU is reinvigorated and sure of reaching its goals of decreasing the incidence of childhood obesity and strengthening the local food system in Douglas County.

Keeping these cuties in the garden for another year!

Keeping these cuties in the garden for another year! by Healthy Sprouts

Reply 12 comments from Kat Christian Healthy Sprouts Lawrence Morgan Chris Tilden Marilyn Hull Lily Siebert Sheila White Charlie Bryan

Success from the 2nd Annual Fall Harvest Festival!

On Sunday, September 16th nearly 150 early educators, local farmers and families gathered at the Pendleton’s Country Market under overcast skies and fall-like weather. The occasion was the second annual Fall Harvest Festival, celebrating two successful years of DCCDA’s program, Families, Farmers and Educators United (FFEU). FFEU is a Farm to Child Care program that uses gardening and a local-food based curriculum to teach young children about where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices. Child care centers participating in the program are also matched with local farmers to provide Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to families who choose to subscribe. With 27 in-home child care providers, 9 child care centers, 9 farms, and 950 children participating this year, there was a lot to celebrate!

It turned out to be perfect festival weather for the second year in a row, and attendees enjoyed live music, local food and fun games on the farm. Children enjoyed food and gardening related crafts, the Pendletons’ Butterfly Bio-Villa, and farm games such as the egg and spoon race, volleyball and gunny sack races. Food was donated from 715, Pachamamas, Wheatfields Bakery and Sylas and Maddy’s. The event was a great success thanks to these generous gifts, as well as the enthusiasm and hard work of students from KU’s Alternative Weekend Breaks, who volunteered for the festival once again this year.

While we have all worked hard this year to teach ourselves and young children about nutrition, growing food and participating in the local food system, sometimes it is just as important to celebrate and have fun. One parent from Ballard Community Services child care center said, “My daughter and I had such a fun time. The time just flew by. The food was great, but more than anything, we enjoyed spending time together, making crafts and playing. What a wonderful thing to go to. Thanks so much.” Others agreed that it was a lovely evening, and a great opportunity to build community and network with others who are working toward growing healthier children. THANK YOU to everyone who came out!

We would also like to thank Angelique McNaughton from the LJWorld for spending the evening at the festival! Check out her article here:

Photography donated by Lauren Krivoshia (Photos below)

Egg Race!

Egg Race! by Healthy Sprouts

Hayrides thanks to John Pendleton

Hayrides thanks to John Pendleton by Healthy Sprouts

Three-Legged Race!

Three-Legged Race! by Healthy Sprouts

Planting a seed

Planting a seed by Healthy Sprouts

The Feast!

The Feast! by Healthy Sprouts


Yummy! by Healthy Sprouts

Choices, choices!

Choices, choices! by Healthy Sprouts

Eating healthy food!

Eating healthy food! by Healthy Sprouts

The Crowd

The Crowd by Healthy Sprouts

Musicians John Lomas and Bill Crahan

Musicians John Lomas and Bill Crahan by Healthy Sprouts

Party time with Dave Besson and band!

Party time with Dave Besson and band! by Healthy Sprouts

Reply 1 comment from Marilyn Hull

2nd Annual Fall Harvest Festival!

The Douglas County Child Development Association will be hosting the 2nd annual Fall Harvest Festival! The festival will take place on September 16th in celebration of the second year of the farm to child care program, Families, Farmers and Educators United. Participants and supporters of the program are invited to come out to the Pendleton's Country Market to enjoy local food, music and family-friendly games.

Thanks to all of the generous donors who made it possible: Pachamamas, 715, Wheatfields Bakery, Sylas and Maddy's, Sunflower Rental, MSM Systems, J&S Coffee Co., Z's Divine Espresso, KU's Alternative Weekend Breaks and other volunteers, musicians, photographer, and of course the Pendletons!

It should be a beautiful weekend to commemorate the achievements of everyone involved in teaching our young people about healthy, local food!

Fall Harvest Festival 2012

Fall Harvest Festival 2012 by Healthy Sprouts


Linking the Food and Health Pieces Together

When working to improve the health of the community and strengthen the local food system, all the pieces of the puzzle are needed. While each part is crucial, the system will not change in any meaningful or lasting way unless all components are present and working together. Without awareness, policies will not be examined. Without policies, actions will not be sustained. Without access, change is not an option. Without education and relationships, access is futile. Families, Farmers and Educators United (FFEU) aims to address all of these components in order to sustain positive change. We spread awareness about the growing childhood obesity issue, we work toward policy change within child care settings, we provide access to nutritious and local food through Community Supported Agriculture and gardening, and we emphasize education and relationship-building through educator trainings and family farm field trips.

In past articles, we have shared photos and stories about Community Supported Agriculture, gardening and cooking with kids. Over the past year and a half, we have also hosted a number of trainings for early educators that provide information about nutrition, local foods, food preparation and gardening. Recently, FFEU organized a weekend family field trip to Maggie's Farm where young children and families got to meet farmer, Barbara Clark and her sheep. Children also got a chance to dig potatoes and plant their own gourds to take home. Through education and family outreach, we hope to change the minds and habits of the early educators and families in a positive way. Children learn from the adults in their lives. By increasing the awareness of adults, we hope that children's lives and health will be improved along the way.

We love being a part of the Lawrence and Douglas County community where community members are making a difference in the health and lives of children. On the same morning as our Maggie's Farm field trip, the Garden Incubator (a child-centered community garden next to Ballard Community Services) partnered with Dads of Douglas County and the 2012 Summer Fun Hunt for a kids hunt in the veggie maze. This Saturday, Growing Food, Growing Health will host a 5K to support their school gardens. The FFEU program is just one of the amazing groups working toward similar goals, and we are grateful to be a piece of the health and gardening puzzle here in Douglas County. Perhaps together, the solution to childhood obesity will no longer be so puzzling!

Finding delicious pears at Maggie's Farm orchard!

Finding delicious pears at Maggie's Farm orchard! by Healthy Sprouts

Maggie's Farm Field Trip

Maggie's Farm Field Trip by Healthy Sprouts

Farmer, Barbara Clark shows the group how she spins her sheep's wool into yarn

Farmer, Barbara Clark shows the group how she spins her sheep's wool into yarn by Healthy Sprouts

Digging potatoes!

Digging potatoes! by Healthy Sprouts

Finding treasures beneath the dirt!

Finding treasures beneath the dirt! by Healthy Sprouts

So, THAT'S where beans come from!

So, THAT'S where beans come from! by Healthy Sprouts

Look what I found!

Look what I found! by Healthy Sprouts

Staring contest

Staring contest by Healthy Sprouts

Introduction to Gardening and Local Foods Training

Introduction to Gardening and Local Foods Training by Healthy Sprouts

Chef, Rick Martin conducts a Local Food Tasting and Preparation training

Chef, Rick Martin conducts a Local Food Tasting and Preparation training by Healthy Sprouts

Root for Food Curriculum Training

Root for Food Curriculum Training by Healthy Sprouts

At a What's On Your Plate training, early educators partake in the Little Red Hen story

At a What's On Your Plate training, early educators partake in the Little Red Hen story by Healthy Sprouts

Early educators learned all about whole grains at the What's On Your Plate Training

Early educators learned all about whole grains at the What's On Your Plate Training by Healthy Sprouts

Reply 4 comments from Healthy Sprouts Charlie Bryan Marilyn Hull

Cooking With Kids: Healthy Skills and Habits for Life

If the idea of cooking with children—young children— gives you the chills, you’re not alone. It’s a common feeling among anyone who has spent time cleaning up after a two-year-old eats lunch. Simply put, it sounds like more trouble than it’s worth. But just for a minute, let’s suspend the reality of sticky counters, splattered kitchen appliances and grimy little hands….

Think about all the things we want for our children. We want our kids to be able to identify healthy and unhealthy foods. We want them to recognize the social value of preparing food and cooking with family and friends. We want them to feel comfortable making good choices about the food they eat three or more times per day. And eventually we want them to have confidence in the kitchen and understand how to stay safe around hot dishes and sharp utensils. Exposing children to food preparation and cooking at an early age can teach them valuable skills and habits that will serve them well throughout life.

The Farm to Childcare program at DCCDA, Families, Farmers and Educators United, is committed to fighting childhood obesity and strengthening our community’s food system in order to protect the health of our youngest generation. Program staff have recently made visits to a number of family child care homes in order to help child care providers incorporate healthy food preparation and cooking into their normal routines with kids. The pictures you see illustrate these adventures. The kids have learned to prepare Strawberry Lassies (smoothies), Zucchini Boats and even Garden Pizzas on homemade dough. Often a few of the ingredients are picked straight from the garden in the back yard. The children range in age from under two years and up to six years, and everyone can help. They’ve been practicing skills like: rinsing vegetables and fruits, tearing lettuce, measuring ingredients, carefully pouring or spooning ingredients into a bowl as well as stirring and mixing. They have also learned to knead dough, cut foods with a safe knife, assemble a dish and clean up after themselves.

While there will surely be messes, there is immense value in letting kids participate in cooking. And if that’s not enough, consider this: during the home visits, not one child hesitated before eating the vegetables they had helped prepare. Why not involve your child in cooking dinner tonight?

Learning to safely manipulate child-friendly utensils to cut strawberries.

Learning to safely manipulate child-friendly utensils to cut strawberries. by Healthy Sprouts

Even the youngest kiddos can help place sliced strawberries into the blender!

Even the youngest kiddos can help place sliced strawberries into the blender! by Healthy Sprouts

Here the kids all got a turn measuring the orange juice and pouring it into the blender for our Strawberry Lassi recipe.

Here the kids all got a turn measuring the orange juice and pouring it into the blender for our Strawberry Lassi recipe. by Healthy Sprouts

During this visit the kids used zucchini from the garden for their Zucchini Boat recipe.

During this visit the kids used zucchini from the garden for their Zucchini Boat recipe. by Healthy Sprouts

They had a great time brushing on olive oil and garlic, slicing tomatoes and sprinkling cheese.

They had a great time brushing on olive oil and garlic, slicing tomatoes and sprinkling cheese. by Healthy Sprouts

These kids couldn't get enough of the vegetables!

These kids couldn't get enough of the vegetables! by Healthy Sprouts

Reply 5 comments from Meganstuke Healthy Sprouts Heisenberg Karrey Britt Marilyn Hull

Families Enjoy the Convenience of Fresh Food at Child Care Centers

Families with young children are very busy people, indeed. It can be a real challenge finding the time to prepare healthy meals at home. However, with the rise in childhood obesity, it is increasingly important that young children receive proper nutrition and learn to love healthy food at an early age. Studies show that children have already formed their food preferences by age 5, so it is crucial to reach children from the very beginning with healthy messages around food.

For families enrolled in any of the 9 child care centers participating in Families, Farmers and Educators United, accessing healthy food has gotten a lot easier. Rather than making a separate trip to the grocery store with small children in tow, the 150 families who subscribed to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at their child care center this year simply pick up a weekly bag of fresh, local produce while they are picking up their child(ren).

This increase in fruit and vegetable purchasing not only encourages subscribers to feed their families healthier meals, it also increases the market for local farmers. This mutually beneficial relationship contributes to a healthier community and stronger local food system.

Time, however, is not always the only challenge for families wishing to increase their consumption of local foods. Cost is also seen as an obstacle for many families who are on a tight budget. CSA subscribers generally pay $15/week or $60/month. A household of 4 with an annual income between $10,000 and $30,000 generally spends between $50 and $55 on fruits and vegetables per month, according to the USDA ( Although a few dollars a month can mean a lot for a family, it is a relatively small price to pay for increasing the freshness and nutrition of meals at home and preventing chronic disease from affecting loved ones. Subscribers also support the local economy.

One local farmer, Barbara Clark of Maggie's Farm, has also made it easier for families on a budget to participate by becoming a SNAP retailer. SNAP is the program that provides food assistance for families, and was formerly referred to as food stamps. Clark's effort allows families enrolled in SNAP to use those benefits to pay for their weekly CSA share. This uncommon and progressive step made by Maggie's Farm may well serve as a model for other farmers to involve a broader segment of the population in local food and health.

With dedicated farmers, passionate early educators and enthusiastic families, the Families, Farmers and Educators United program is leading the way to promoting health in the early years and contributing to the community-wide effort toward a stronger local food system.

Farmer, Jenny Buller and subscriber at Stepping Stones Child Care's CSA

Farmer, Jenny Buller and subscriber at Stepping Stones Child Care's CSA by Healthy Sprouts

Barbara of Maggie's Farm at Ballard Community Serves

Barbara of Maggie's Farm at Ballard Community Serves by Healthy Sprouts

Children's Learning Center director, Holly Turner chats with farmer, Rolf Petermann at the first CSA drop-off

Children's Learning Center director, Holly Turner chats with farmer, Rolf Petermann at the first CSA drop-off by Healthy Sprouts

John Pendleton describes the weekly share of produce to a subscriber at Princeton Children's Center

John Pendleton describes the weekly share of produce to a subscriber at Princeton Children's Center by Healthy Sprouts

Farmer, Aaron Silber dropping off fresh produce to the Lawrence Community Nursery School

Farmer, Aaron Silber dropping off fresh produce to the Lawrence Community Nursery School by Healthy Sprouts

Families picking up their weekly share of Moon on the Meadow and Buller Family Farm produce from Hilltop Child Development Center

Families picking up their weekly share of Moon on the Meadow and Buller Family Farm produce from Hilltop Child Development Center by Healthy Sprouts

Reply 5 comments from Healthy Sprouts Marilyn Hull Jennifer Dropkin Justoneperson

Short Video Showcases Young Gardeners

Check out our video and see what we've been up to during our first year!