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. http://igg.me/at/healthysprouts/x/4869815
Thank you to everyone who has already donated, and who will donate now.
Emily Hampton, Healthy Sprouts Coordinator
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: http://igg.me/at/healthysprouts/x/4869815
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: http://igg.me/at/healthysprouts/x/4869815
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: http://igg.me/at/healthysprouts/x/4869815
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
- 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!
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
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.
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 farmtopreschool.org 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/sep...
Photography donated by Lauren Krivoshia (Photos below)
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!
There are plenty of opportunities this week to celebrate Farmers' Market Week. Come on out and show your support!
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!
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 (http://panplanrevision.mainepan-hw.wikispaces.net/file/view/USDA+Food+Stamp+Purchase+documentpdf.pdf). 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.