What is Farm to ECE?
Farm to Early Childcare Education (ECE) programming aims to establish healthy and sustainable dietary practices during early childcare years (0-5yrs) by providing access to healthy food options and nutritional education to Head Start and early childcare centers. Farm to ECE also connects centers with the local food system by working with growers and producers as well as educating children, families, and teachers on making healthy and sustainable food choices. This field of work is emerging from the extensive research about the importance of early childhood dietary impacts.
Our Farm to ECE program works with centers to improve the food offered at meals and snacks, offers interactive nutritional education to students and staff and provides parents with take-home materials. Farm to ECE also connects parents to local food access resources including federal food benefits, farmers markets that accept SNAP and local grocery stores.
Through these practices, we aim to increase awareness and prevention of dietary-related illnesses and diseases. The Farm to ECE program makes system-wide changes in the childcare environment that will help children live healthy and successful lives.
Why Farm to ECE?
The nutritional practices of a child during these years have the greatest impact on future dietary success. (These are also formative years in which children experience a changing preference for food.) Farm to ECE enriches the community by connecting early care centers with local farmers and food producers. Farm to ECE teaches children the natural rhythm of growing crops by consuming fruits and vegetables in season. Farm to ECE empowers children and families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to our vibrant community. Consuming local food requires less travel thus limiting carbon emissions.
Eating local is fresher!
How do we implement Farm to ECE program?
Baseline assessment through nationally recognized GO NAPSACC program, as well as an analysis of current buying and preparation habits. Menu changes or shifts in order to provide CACFP approved healthy meals for children Connection to local farmers as well as a local produce distributor for food procurement Resources for families in order to increase their food access by utilizing existing food access programming such as need-based assistance programs, mobile markets, food banks, farmers markets, and more. Templates for communication materials such as newsletters and monthly menus to send home with families Resources for nutrition education (booklists, class activities, and connections to partner resources such as Harvest of the Month)
What is Go NAPSACC?
GO NAPSACC, a nationally recognized and evidence-based program from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is comprised of a team of researchers and public health professionals with the aim to improve the health of young children across the nation. Go NAPSACC works with childcare providers to improve the health of young children through practices, policies, and environments that instill habits supporting lifelong health and well-being. By joining FPAC’s Farm to ECE program you will receive the benefit of working with a trained GO NAPSACC Technical Assistant Consultant who will give personalized support to you through the self-assessment, coach you through the 5 Steps of GO NAPSACC, and help track progress and success.
What are the benefits of joining a Farm to ECE program through FPAC?
The FPAC website includes a link to a toolkit that is free to download and provides Farm to ECE resources for the New Orleans area and beyond.
Reading suggestions for Farm to ECE related books
New Orleans Farmers Market Guide
New Orleans Food Access Resource Guide
CACFP Meal Patterns Guide
USDA Farm to Preschool Guide
USDA Planning Guide
Links to other helpful Farm to ECE resources gathered from successful programs around the country.
FPAC is available to provide personalized technical assistance for your center. If this is of interest to you, please reach out to us. Our technical assistance programming includes:
Monthly menu recommendations
Monthly family newsletter
Monthly teacher/educator training and professional development newsletter
There is no charge or program fee to download the toolkit. If you would like to partner with FPAC’s Farm to ECE team to start a program at your center, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reach out to discuss further.