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Save the date for the 7th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Austin, Texas. April 15-18, 2014. See the National Farm to School Network website for more details!
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Farm to Preschool is a rapidly expanding family of programs throughout the country. Below is a list and brief overview of pilot and ongoing programs, organized by state, that can be categorized as “Farm to Preschool” but may identify themselves under a wide variety of program names.
The Farm to Preschool Program at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College began as a pilot program in 2009 offering a Harvest of the Month nutrition and garden-based curriculum, support for local food sourcing in participating schools, field trips to farmers' markets, a market basket program for parents and staff, parent workshops, as well as the development and integration of preschool gardens and wellness policies at participating sites. The program has conducted an extensive evaluation through child and parent surveys, teacher checklists and observations.
The program was honored with a 2012 Recognition Award from Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Child Care initiaitve. It is now in an expansion phase and is also responsible for the design and administration of this Farm to Preschool website. Demonstration training workshops have helped expand the program in Los Angeles and San Diego counties and currently throughout California and the Southwest (Arizona and New Mexico). The program co-leads a national effort through the Farm to Preschool Subcommittee and is exploring the development of a state-wide initiative within California. Please see the website for program details, free downloadable curricula and materials. Click here to view the program’s introductory video for preschools and click here to view the teacher training video.
Click here to read about the farm to preschool activities currently being implemented by the Colusa Indian Community Council, as presented to the Farm to Preschool Subcommittee on March 15, 2012. Click here to read a blog on this program on Let’s Move!.
The Neighborhood House Association (NHA) is a large multi-purpose human services 501(c)3 organization operating in San Diego, CA. One of the many programs offered by the organization is the provision of nutrition services to NHA’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs and vending food services to several other early childcare programs located throughout the county. Thousands of meals are prepared each day for the 31 sites participating in NHA’s food services program.
NHA received one of just 20 Recognition Awards from Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Child Care initiative in 2012, in part for their distinctive meals prepared daily from scratch. Menus are crafted by NHA’s own Chef and Registered Dietitian/Director of Nutrition Services to ensure each meal is nutritionally balanced and appealing to children. In addition, meals are designed so as to incorporate seasonal, locally produced, natural and organic foods while remaining ethnically diverse. NHA participates in the Farm to Preschool program in conjunction with the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. Since incorporating these changes into its foodservice department, NHA staff has been able to demonstrate through high child and parental approval ratings that children do enjoy healthy food. Through Nutrition Services and Head Start, the Neighborhood House Association seeks to educate children about healthy food as a means to promote healthy lifestyles. To learn more about the program click here.
The Farm to Keiki Preschool Program was piloted in 19 preschools September 2011, including the Head Start Kauai schools. The program was adapted to be used in Hawai’i from the Farm to Preschool Program created by the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute of Occidental College. The program involves a year-long garden and nutrition based curriculum, garden based books, field trips, menu changes, parent workshops, school gardens, the commitment to a wellness policy, program survey and evaluations, and partnering with local grocery stores and media venues to promote and offer sales on locally grown Hawaiian harvested fruit and vegetables featured in the curriculum each month. More information is available here.
The Families, Farmers and Educators United for Healthy Child Development (FFEU) began in 2011 and is funded by the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund through 2012. FFEU targets young children and their families at both child care centers and in-home child care providers. The program takes an innovative and multi-faceted approach, which includes the following components: gardening in child care settings, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) for families and child care centers, age-appropriate local-food based curriculum, family outreach and trainings for early educators. By equipping families and early educators with the networks and tools to create healthy environments and relationships around food, children are regularly exposed to healthy options and understand their own capacity to make positive choices and grow their own food. Read more.
The Farm to Preschool and Families (F2P) project, convened by Partners for a Healthier Community, Inc., is an innovative initiative that starts in early education and care sites providing high quality, local produce to preschool children and their families, exposing them to healthy eating habits.Each partner—Early Education and Care (EEC) organizations, local farmers, Springfield Early Childhood Education Partnership (SECEP), MA Farm to School, and The Food Bank of Western MA (FBWM)—realizes its own potential to impact the lives of children through this cooperative effort and once to scale, provide access to healthy foods for approximately 7000 low-income children in the Greater Springfield community. The collaborative seeks environmental and policy changes at the organizational and local community level, through large-scale changes in procurement, distribution, retail, marketing, preparation and consumption systems. More information is available on the program’s website. For further details on the procurement strategy of this program visit the Local Food Sourcing page.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures (HKHF) is a multi-level early childhood obesity prevention initiative based in Boston, MA. Farm to Family (F2F) is one component of HKHF’s work, and began as a collaborative endeavor between HKHF, The Food Project (TFP), and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), Inc. Head Start. F2F is an innovative pilot initiative designed to make low-cost farm shares containing local produce easily available to low-income families. The initiative was piloted between July and November 2011 at 10 community sites in Boston, MA. Four of these sites were Head Start programs that partnered with Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures and were included in a pilot evaluation (Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures, 2011). The program components described here were implemented at these four Head Start sites. For further details on the procurement strategy of this program visit the Local Food Sourcing page. For further details on the evaluation on this program, visit the Presentations section of the Publications and Presentations page.
In late 2011 The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), the Minnesota State Lead for the National Farm to School Network, began partnering on a new Farm to Childcare initiative with New Horizon Academy (NHA) an innovative for-profit child care provider with 64 centers in Minnesota and Idaho.
IATP and NHA will co-develop, pilot, evaluate and disseminate innovative Farm to Childcare (F2CC) strategies including meal/food approaches, curriculum and parent outreach. The partners share a commitment to the following Farm to Childcare goals: enhance food quality in childcare settings through increased use of fresh, locally grown foods, advance children’s understanding of local food issues and the development of healthy eating habits, inform and engage parents, and support the local economy and small/mid-size farmers through local food procurement.
The pilot phase will launch in June 2012 through 13 of NHA’s childcare sites. We anticipate rolling out the F2CC initiative at all of NHA’s sites in Minnesota and Idaho in 2013, reaching approximately 8000 children. We will also package a wide range of F2CC tools, outcome data and lessons learned from the pilot phase to national audiences in 2013.
The Farm to Preschool program is composed of four components – fresh local produce served, farm field trips, local food cooking classes, and garden sites at the childcare facility. ASAP’s Farm to Preschool program began in 2007 as a pilot program at a single Head Start location in Hendersonville, NC. The pilot program involved working with food service staff to integrate local food into meals, but also building positive experiences with local food and farms among staff, children and families. ASAP also participates in the NC IOM Early Childhood Obesity Task Force and is involved in the Shape NC initiative.
ASAP has contracted with a Registered Dietician (RD) this year to work directly with Head Start food service staff to increase the amount of locally grown food integrated into meals and snacks, as well as create buy in through positive local food and farm experiences.
ASAP is now in year two of a three year pre-service project, with funding from the WK Kellogg Foundation, to work with local community colleges and universities to integrate local food and farm-based instruction into pre-service early childhood and elementary education programs. ASAP has established a learning lab site at a Head Start and elementary school this year. Learning labs will be model sites in which pre-service education and health science students and others can see and experience Farm to Preschool and Farm to School efforts firsthand. ASAP provides Head Start teachers with resources and training, and also trains parents to be effective advocates for their children.
Program information will be available soon.
Program information will be available soon.
In 2008-09, in partnership with the Oregon Child Development Coalition, Ecotrust piloted one of the first Farm to Preschool programs in the country. Activities included facilitating farm to school program design, helping childcare facilities to make connections with local food producers and processors to begin purchasing local products, and promoting complementary food and garden-based education by identifying existing resources and curricular activities to support the inclusion of garden-based education to Head Start program areas. Read more and download materials on the website, scrolling down to “Farm to Childcare.”
In September 2011, Mt. Hood Community College Head Start launched a pilot Farm to Head Start program in Multnomah County, Oregon. Drawing inspiration from the “Harvest of the Month” model, each month a new local fruit or vegetable is served in meals and snacks. The program also includes a year-long nutrition curriculum co-developed with Head Start teachers, including books, songs, sensory activities, cooking lessons, and play. Parent outreach includes teacher-led presentations and monthly take-home newsletters. Beginning in June of 2012, a web-based program toolkit will offer recipes for foodservice and families, monthly activity plans, downloadable fruit and vegetable picture cards, newsletter templates, and other resources. The project is being evaluated through teacher and foodservice surveys, procurement analysis, direct observation, and a children’s food preference assessment.
This project is a collaborative effort with MHCC Head Start, Portland State University’s School of Community Health, Oregon Health & Sciences University, Ecotrust, Child Care Resource & Referral of Multnomah County, Dancing Roots Farm, Food Services of America, and Head Start parents. The project is supported by funding from Kaiser Permanente Northwest.
The Preschool Initiative is a farm to preschool program that brings educators, parents and community members together to connect young children to their food source and encourage healthier food choices. The program, which was piloted in five preschool centers in low-income communities in Philadelphia, is based on The Food Trust’s nationally recognized Kindergarten Initiative.
Program components include weekly classroom lessons, farm trips, cooking in the classroom, gardening activities and weekly local snacks. “Snack and Move” cards, which were developed for teachers to use during snack time, provide pictures of fruits and vegetables, each with pertinent nutrition information and fun ideas for physical activity.
Because parent outreach is integral to the program’s success, the Preschool Initiative includes a newsletter and workshops for families, and invites parents and caregivers to join in field trips and cooking lessons. The program also increases families’ access to fresh, local produce through mini “farm stores,” which deliver produce at affordable prices directly to families at their preschool centers.
A toolkit with resources to implement the program, and flexibly adapt its components to suit a variety of preschool settings, is available as a free PDF (or may be ordered as a hard copy) at The Food Trust’s website.
Farm to Preschool was first piloted in Rhode Island by Kids First in autumn 2011. An outgrowth of the successful RI Farm to School project, RI Farm to Preschool encourages preschools and childcare centers to support local agriculture with purchases of farm fresh foods and implementation of garden, agriculture and nutrition education programs. As local foods are incorporated into meals and snacks, Farm to School education programs help young children develop healthy eating habits while teaching them the environmental, economic and community benefits of supporting local farms.
RI Farm to Preschool education programs include interactive classroom lessons focused on local agriculture and nutrition, incorporating taste testing and healthy snack preparation. Farm field trips and gardening activities offer experiential learning opportunities to both students and their parents. The program also supports preschools with technical assistance such as facilitation of purchasing relationships and chef support with menu changes and implementation.
As RI Farm to School and Farm to Preschool move to Farm Fresh RI in the summer of 2012, a new pilot will offer Farm Fresh Veggie Boxes to the Children’s Workshop network of pre-schools. Along with education programs and farm field trips, a weekly delivery of local, farm fresh produce will be made available to participants. Each week, a Veggie Box item will be introduced to students during nutrition focused education programs. From taste testing to healthy snack preparation, students and their caretakers will be exposed to a variety of produce while learning recipes and preparation techniques. Farm field trips will reinforce the lessons while offering experiential learning activities. Lessons learned from the pilot will be used to craft a Farm to Preschool program offered to all 18 centers in the Children’s Workshop network.
Program information will be available soon.
Contact us if you have a program model you wish to share on this webpage.