Fresh Take Blog
Community Engagement

Learning Your ABCs With a Side of Carrots and Peas

Jul. 8, 2024
Community engagement activities include sampling easy seasonal recipes you can make at home.

Food Education For Early Learners

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 49% of children ages 1 to 5 do not eat a daily vegetable. 

Yes, you read that right: nearly half of young children do not eat a single vegetable each day. Yet we know that eating habits formed in early childhood set the stage for a child’s life: recent research suggests that “genetic factors only contribute 20%-30%….lifestyle and environment dictate the rest.”

Just as improving food access is essential to creating a strong local food system, FRESHFARM knows that nutrition education at the earliest stages of a child’s life is equally critical in achieving our mission. One way we do this is by placing our Community Food Educators in Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers to work directly with childcare providers and families to increase early learners’ exposure to and consumption of fruits and vegetables. 

FRESHFARM and National Children’s Center Partnership 

This Spring, FRESHFARM partnered with National Children’s Center (NCC) to bring nutrition education and community engagement to the NCC Early Learning Center and Early Intervention Center (3400 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE). FRESHFARM funds this work through a generous grant from Washington, DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) via the Healthy Tots Act. NCC Early Learning Center is one of 15 ECE “Healthy Tots” sites where FRESHFARM does this work. What’s more, this new partnership signifies a crucial step in achieving objective six of our strategic plan: to grow meaningful food education that increases consumption of nutritious, local food. 

“Collaborating with FRESHFARM, a key partner in health education and awareness, is a significant step,” explains Lisa Proctor, NCC Vice President of External Affairs. “Our collective commitment is to provide the ongoing support necessary for individuals and families to achieve successful, healthy eating habits. This work, which has been the cornerstone of our mission for years, is now amplified by the recent grant opportunity. We look forward to the opportunity to enhance, elevate, and engage families, fostering a deeper understanding of healthy lifestyles, which will foster positive outcomes for everyone involved.”

Community Engagement and Nutrition Education at Early Childhood Education Centers

Miss Rose Williams is a member of the FRESHFARM's Community Engagement teamAt all the ECE sites we work at, FRESHFARM Community Engagement team members provide monthly in-person engagements for families and staff. “These engagements can take a few forms,” explains Lola Bloom, FRESHFARM’s Community Education Program Manager. “It could be tastings of FRESHFARM recipes, cooking demos, and supporting staff with access to market benefits and programs. All of our Healthy Tots sites also have access to monthly virtual cooking sessions and bi-weekly technical assistance.” 

Since starting this partnership with NNC Early Learning Center, FRESHFARM Community Food Educator Rose Williams has led activities such as cooking vegetable fried rice to share with families during a monthly food distribution event, providing families with easy recipes to make the most of the food they get, and sampling seasonal green pesto for staff.

The type of hands-on, community-based outreach FRESHFARM does, thanks to these types of partnerships, matters because the sooner young children are exposed to a wide range of fresh produce, the better they are set up for a lifetime of healthy eating. And that joyful nutrition and food education at an early age builds skills that will inspire the next generation of food citizens to prioritize nutritious foods that protect the health of their bodies and environment. 

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