Posts tagged with Wellness

Top 5 Reasons We Need Farm to Preschool

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:

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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:, find us at, or mail a donation to: DCCDA 1525 W. 6th St. Lawrence KS 66044

Thank you!

Happy gardener!

Happy gardener! by Healthy Sprouts

Making pesto!

Making pesto! by Healthy Sprouts

Yummy local tomatoes!

Yummy local tomatoes! by Healthy Sprouts


LiveWell Lawrence Gains Momentum

Learn more about this important community effort that we're happy to be a part of:


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

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

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