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: email@example.com
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!
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?