Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Centers

New York State Department of Health Child and Adult Care Food Program

Overview

Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings (EWPHCCS) is an education and policy, systems and environmental change intervention funded by the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). The intervention focuses on improving the nutrition and physical activity behaviors of preschool age children and their parents/caregivers by using educational strategies and skill building activities to promote healthy behavior change. The intervention also builds supports within the child care environment by including teachers and care providers in lessons, encouraging positive role-modeling, and facilitating classroom and center-level reinforcement of nutrition and physical activity messages.

EWPHCCS targets families with children ages 3-5 years, participating in or eligible for the SNAP and children enrolled in child care centers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

For more information about this project contact CACFP at 1-800-942-3858 or cacfp@health.ny.gov.

Farm to Preschool

New York State Department of Health Child and Adult Care Food Program, Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings Initiative (CACFP)

Overview

Farm to Preschool, a component of Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings (EWPHCCS), is a direct education and policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change intervention that focuses on:

  • increasing parental access to locally grown produce and
  • reducing the cost barriers to these healthy foods for parents with children in preschool and the staff who work there.

Intervention Reach and Adoption

Farm to Preschool is a USDA SNAP-Ed funded intervention. EWPHCCS grantees partner with CACFP-participating child care centers located in areas of high poverty with high rates of childhood obesity. Farm to Preschool education primarily focuses on preschool aged children enrolled in child care centers, their families, child care staff, and the surrounding community. Farm to Preschool projects are located throughout New York State, from Long Island to Buffalo.

Intervention Components

The Farm to Preschool intervention includes several core elements:

  • Gardening: EWPHCCS grantees offer hands-on gardening opportunities that allow preschool aged children to strengthen their understanding of how food grows and where food comes from.
  • Local produce sales: Each Farm to Preschool center either collaborates with a farmer or mobile market to offer an on-site market at the child care center, or promotes use of pre-established community-based farmers' markets in the neighborhood. The intent is to make affordable fresh, local produce available to parents, staff and community members near the child care center. As part of that effort, produce vendors are encouraged to accept SNAP, Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks, e-WIC, and Fresh Connect Checks.
  • Local food purchasing: EWPHCCS grantees work with Farm to Preschool participating child care centers to purchase and serve local and seasonal foods in meals and snacks. Doing so can support adherence to CACFP meal patterns and allows every meal time opportunity to be a learning opportunity.
  • Food and gardening education: Farm to Preschool educators use the USDA's Grow it, Try it, Like it! curriculum in preschool classrooms, giving children hands-on experience with in-season fruits and vegetables. Children can learn about how food grows by reading farm and garden books; engaging in experiential education activities such as tasting local vegetables or planting and watching seeds grow; or using garden-related activities in academic learning to support achievement of early learning standards. In addition, Farm to Preschool educators also offer live recipe demonstrations for parents, staff and community members to highlight how to use bountiful seasonal produce in meals and snacks at home. For those centers with on-site markets, educators conduct the recipe demonstrations alongside the produce vendor(s), highlighting the most abundant fruits or vegetables available for purchase that day.

Intervention Materials

Farm to Preschool educators use the USDA's Grow it, Try it, Like it! curriculum in preschool classrooms. Educators use recipes available from the Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables program to demonstrate how to prepare simple, healthy recipes using locally grown produce.

For more information about this project contact CACFP at 1-800-942-3858 or cacfp@health.ny.gov.