2016 has been a big year for little eaters! The farm to early care and education movement is on the rise, and with it, many new opportunities to bring fresh, healthy food and high-quality educational opportunities to young children across the country.
At the National Farm to School Network, we’ve had an exciting year of developing new resources, building partnerships, and scaling up efforts to strengthen the farm to ECE movement and reach more children in these vital early years. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve accomplished in 2016:
SURVEY RESULTS: Launched results of our 2015 National Survey of Early Care and Education Providers with an infographic, fact sheet and report. We found that more than 50 percent of respondents were already incorporating farm to ECE activities - like gardening, including local foods in meals and snacks, and food and nutrition education - into their early care and education settings and another 28 percent plan to start in the future.
TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES: Provided training for farm to ECE practitioners at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, which included workshop sessions on farm to early care and education procurement, curriculum and network building.
WEBINARS: Our Farm to ECE Webinar series highlighted opportunities and best practices to further farm to ECE with in-depth looks at State Level Partnership Opportunities, Cultural Relevancy in Farm to ECE, and Local Procurement in ECE Settings.
NEW RESOURCES: Updated our collection of farm to ECE factsheets – including Getting Started with Farm to Early Care and Education, Local Procurement for Child Care Centers, Local Purchasing for Family Child Care Providers – and added new ECE resources created by partners to our Resource Library.
CASE STUDIES: Partnered with pfc Social Impact Advisors and the BUILD Initiative to develop a series of six case studies that highlight best practices from service providers using farm ECE as an approach to support health, wellness, high-quality education, and community change.
STORYTELLING: On our blog, we’ve shared inspiring stories of the many ways providers use farm to ECE activities to introduce young children to healthy habits and strengthen local communities. For example, how a garden has brought together preschoolers and Veterans in California, how fresh beets and a blender inspired a 4-year old try new foods, and they ways CACFP providers are finding success with farm to ECE.
With over 12 million children spending an average of 33 hours per week in early care and education settings, farm to ECE has the potential to set up a significant number of young children for success with healthy habits and high quality learning environments. We need your help to grow this movement, and insure that all children and families have access to a bright and healthy future.
Join us in strengthening these efforts to give our littlest eaters a healthy start. A donation in any amount is an investment in our children's future.
We are grateful for your generous support of the farm to ECE movement, and uplifted by your commitments to grow a healthier next generation. Thank you for being our partners in this work!