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Opportunities and Challenges for Farm to Early Care and Education in Settings Serving Low-Income Children

Lacy Stephens and Lydia Oberholtzer | 27-Nov-2018

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Opportunities and Challenges for Farm to Early Care and Education in Settings Serving Low-Income Children

Farm to early care and education (ECE) is a set of activities that includes the use of local foods in meals and snacks, gardening opportunities, and food-based education. This study, utilizing results from a 2015 national survey of ECE providers, explores farm to ECE activities in settings serving high proportions of low-income children. These sites were less likely to engage in farm to ECE activities than sites serving low proportions of low-income children; those who do undertake ECE activities were new adopters. They reported similar motivations and barriers in implementing farm to ECE as sites serving low proportions of low-income children. Notably, sites serving high proportions of low-income children and involved in farm to ECE spent more of their food budgets on local food than the comparison group. Outreach that capitalizes on cited motivations and identification of funding and programmatic leverage points may support increased implementation of farm to ECE in low-income settings and thus enhance nutrition environments.


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