Local snacks for early chidcare in local area

An exciting new pilot project is bringing more fresh, local veggies and fruit to northeast Iowa preschoolers while supporting local farmers in the region. Three preschool sites participating in the Fresh Local Snack pilot project are NICC Child Development Center in Calmar, Rainbowland Preschool and Daycare in Fayette, and Waukon West Preschool and Waukon Headstart.

From August 21 to December 4, the Iowa Food Hub will deliver a fresh, local snack once a week to the sites (such as cucumbers, pictured at right). Teachers will serve the snacks and report on what fresh fruit and veggie items work best in the classroom. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will evaluate the results and see if the program can be continued and expanded in the future.

Students will taste foods like cucumbers, summer squash, kohlrabi, peppers, broccoli, carrots and more.  A full schedule is posted at www.iowafoodandfitness.org/wegrow.

Preschool children are active learners who experience the world through their senses, physical involvement, active play and from behaviors modeled by adults and peers. Research shows that the preschool years are a particularly sensitive period in the formation of life long habits and taste preferences.

Nutrition education at the preschool level can prove instrumental in influencing the development of healthy eating habits while developing kindergarten readiness through hands-on activities in the areas of science, math, art and literacy. Research indicates that when students learn where food comes from, how it is grown, have hands-on experiences, and use their senses to understand it, they are more likely to taste new food items and accept them as part of their diet and build a foundation of lifelong healthy choices.

Parents and family members can help with the project by encouraging their children to be a good taste-tester who is willing to try new things.

The project is funded by a grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and coordinated by the Iowa Food Hub and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It is part of the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative’s strategy for farm to early childhood outreach and education.
 

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