Farm to ECE & Children's Nutrition
What is Farm to ECE, and what does Farm to ECE at early care centers look like? How can the simple concept of fresh local food translate into a world of exploration and discovery for young children?
Nutrition in the early years directly affects children’s growth, brain development, behavior, and success later in life. Providing young children fresh, locally grown foods - and encouraging them to explore using all of their senses – helps to connect children, their families, and early care centers to the local community, fostering relationships that benefit all!
“Farm to ECE at Apple Ridge Academy – Growing a Healthy Future” details the direct connections between children & families, early childhood centers, and the local community – through food. Learn how growing food in onsite gardens exponentially expands children’s experience - plus, how food exploration and exposure can change a child’s attitudes about food and the world around them.
To Earn 2 Hours of Continuing Ed Credit:
1) Watch the Farm to ECE Presentation (~20 minutes)
2) Review Farm to ECE Notes & Summary (~ 10 minutes)
3) Explore the Creative Curriculum Farm to ECE Guides (~30 minutes)
4) Healthy Harvest for Kids Website Exploration & Registration (~10 minutes)
5) Explore the Pint Size Produce Activity Ideas PDF and/or Website (~20 minutes)
6) Learn More About the Wisconsin-Specific Farm to ECE Initiatives (~10 minutes)
7) Complete the Farm to ECE Reflection Worksheet (~20 minutes)
7) Download and Print the Certificate of Continuing Ed
Submit the Reflection Worksheet & Copy of the Certificate to Your Director
Earn up to 1.5 hours of ADDITIONAL continuing ed credit....
Visit the links to complete the Wisconsin Farm to ECE trainings (earn Registry credit as well).
1) Farm to ECE Presentation
Start by watching the below presentation.
2) Review Training Notes & Summary
Review the PDF Slides of the Powerpoint. The notes below align with each of the 24 slides.
Note: this presentation can be used as a follow-up presentation to the presentation that Traci gave in the spring on “Mealtimes at ARA”. All notes are written from Traci's perspective :)
My WHY – for many years, I’ve been passionate about the connection between food and health – for myself, mostly... but in recent years, I’ve learned the value of good nutrition to give kids the best start possible. I’ve learned A LOT about our food industry and how the American diet has evolved over time, and honestly – it’s scary! It’s caused me to want to stay closer to home for my own food – and now, for the foods we serve at our school.
Love this photo :) This past spring, I discovered WI Farm to ECE – and the fit is perfect! I decided I wanted to expand on this at ARA, and planned to kick it off in the summer. Then COVID hit. But along came the Great Apple Crunch in September, and it felt like the perfect jumping off point.
The 4 main activities involved in F2ECE: Gardens, Local Food, Hands-On Learning and Family Engagement
F2ECE is only as good as the classroom teachers, admin and kitchen staff that buy into it (and hopefully become passionate about it too!). Working with families just completes the circle, and in turn, helps to solidify the concept – and in turn, helps our community at large!
Your turn to share! ~ For me, growing up on a farm, a lot of our food needs were met by the farm (meat from cows, chickens, pigs, deer!). Mom did a lot of gardening and preserving, which I still do to some degree. My childhood food experiences have definitely shaped how I live and eat today.
The current ‘sad’ news about kids’ nutrition. Kids should be healthier now than we were at their age – based on what we know – but they’re not. So what’s changed? The quality of foods. Additives and preservatives. Sugar is basically everywhere! Plus, advertisers and companies that create ‘fake food’ spend a LOT of money to learn how to reach kids – and it works! The worst possible convenience foods are marketed to children :(
I’ve learned much lately about the direct relationship between food and performance… and the studies are out there that emphasize this! I didn’t reference any specific – but they’re easy to find on the internet! Sugar is a big one. Processed foods in general are also the cause of so many issues. *W/O Fruits/veggies – kids are missing key nutrients for brain development. *Sugar & artificial colors affect behavior *Gut health affects many aspects of health and behavior – allergies, illness, mood, cognitive function, etc… *Every time we eat “fake” food (processed), it affects our gut microbiome. Preservatives & chemicals in processed foods kill the good bacteria in the gut & cause tummy issues – digestion gets sluggish, nutrients are not absorbed.
Menu improvements at ARA (New Berlin now, hopefully Brookfield soon!!!)– Our goal is to introduce one new item to our lunch/snack menu each month – and to encourage teachers to follow up on these introductions as part of the classroom experience. And then, involve the families in these experiences as well. Missy at New Berlin has been very enthusiastic about improving and enhancing our menus to make our meals more healthy and interesting, and we’re planning to continue to bring more *local* and *fresh* foods into our meal program.
Gardening – our very first F2ECE program! Our first garden began way back when I taught 3 year old preschool. It was important to me to expand on the ‘food lesson’ from our classroom, and offer children the *whole* food experience – full circle! :) As we move forward, we are looking for more school-wide involvement, and experimentation with different crops and planting styles... 2021 will be an exciting growing season!
Gardening “Pros” – MANY!
Gardening “Cons” – Few to NONE ;)
Gardening with Infants- Sensory, Exploring the Garden Space, Bringing the Garden Inside!
Gardening with Toddlers- Digging, Harvesting, Watering
Gardening with 3 & 4 year olds- Planting, Math Concepts and all of the above!
Gardening with School Age- literally endless possibilties.
Taste Testing – Try introducing a new item each month. Include a variety of experiences. Involve the children in preparation of the food(s), by allowing them to clean, chop, present the food. Always acknowledge the intent to *try*, by giving children the option to explore in their own way. Touching and smelling also count as experience.
Beet & Carrot Salad taste test from our live "in person" training. Go ahead and try this at home by clicking here for the recipe!
Expand on your classroom experience, by sharing some with families!
Engaging Families – This is a large part of the process. If we don’t, we lose that part of the ‘circle’, and our efforts may end in our classroom. Remember: You could be *teaching* that entire family, and not just the child!
Creative Curriculum! Resources specific to F2ECE! Yay... you will be exploring these more in the next step.
Other classroom resources you can use- create them, find them, USE THEM!!!
Got Veggies/Got Dirt – 2 WONDERFUL resources for the classroom – found in the Resource Room. USE THEM!!!
Teaching in Nature’s Classroom – Core principles of garden-based education – also found in the Resource Room.
Additional Resources and Trainings, can below found on this slide. There are MANY more resources out there – these are just a few to get you started.
3) Creative Curriculum Farm to ECE Guides
Review the Training Guide most applicable to your position and use a blank sheet of paper to take notes.
Using the information within the guides, make notes of things that will help you to...
Bring Farm to ECE into your classroom environment, interest areas, and interactions
Tie Farm to ECE into your regular activity and lesson planning
Use Farm to ECE in your child assessments
Involve families in your Farm to ECE efforts within your classroom
4) Explore the "Harvest for Healthy Kids" and Register for FREE Access to the Activity Kits
***Don't forget to click the orange box that says "REGISTER FOR FREE ACCESS TO ALL ACTIVITY KITS" and complete the registration form.
5) Explore "Pint Sized Produce" Website & PDF
6) Additional Farm to ECE Resources
Visit the links below to discover more resources for Farm to ECE, specific to the state of Wisconsin and the initiatives currently in place in our state! Be sure to sign-up for the monthly Farm to ECE in Wisconsin Newsletter.
7) Farm to ECE Training Reflection Worksheet
Download and complete the below reflection worksheet.
8) Certificate of Continuing Education
Download, fill in and submit the below certificate.
[The Registry Approved] Farm to ECE Training Videos
Earn an additional 30 minutes to 80 minutes of Continuing Ed by participating in either (or both) of the below opportunities:
***When you watch the video trainings, it will explain how to receive your Registry credit upon completion. There will be a short survey and then they will e-mail you a certificate. Bring in a copy of your certificate to the Director for Apple Ridge Continuing Ed credit.
Looking for More Cont Ed Credit for Farm to ECE?
You can also earn additional continuing ed credit by exploring any additional Farm to ECE resources mentioned above or that you find on your own and then completing the below Independent Reading & Viewing Form to return to your Director for credit.
(Optional) Watch the Recording from the In-Person Training
Thank you for participating in "Farm to ECE @ ARA- Growing a Healthy Future" You are welcome to reach out to me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, ideas, feedback or anything else that I can support you with!