March 13, 2018, Chapel Hill, NC – New resources for child care providers from the nationally recognized Go NAPSACC program will incorporate the elements of farm-to-table eating starting in March 2018. Researchers with UNC Chapel Hill’s Children’s Healthy Weight Research Group will be expanding resources in their interactive web-based platform known as Go NAPSACC. Since its inception, Go NAPSACC has been used to address breastfeeding and infant feeding, child nutrition, physical activity, outdoor play and learning, screen time, and oral health. Farm to ECE (Early Care and Education) is a natural extension of the existing resources. Go NAPSACC is already being used in six states, including Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
Eating fresh local foods helps young children develop an appreciation for healthy eating that can last a lifetime. Early care and education programs are ideal places to introduce young children to fresh local foods. To support such efforts, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) received a two-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to create Farm-to-ECE resources. The grant will also expand availability of Go NAPSACC to ECE providers in six additional states, including Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The idea builds off the growing farm-to-table movement, in which restaurants focus on ingredients sourced from local farms to create their menus. Goals of this movement are to increase the use of fresh, high-quality, and nutritious foods, and to support small and local farmers. Go NAPSACC’s Farm-to-ECE resources bring this healthy local practice to child care programs. These resources offer child care programs ways to use more local, healthy foods in children’s meals and snacks, teach children about gardening and where foods come from, and talk with families about where to find local foods.
Development of the new Farm-to-ECE resources was guided by national leaders in Farm to ECE. “We want to identify the best ideas from this Farm to ECE movement and help make them achievable for any child care program,” says Dr. Dianne Ward, lead researcher from the UNC-CH team. As with other Go NAPSACC resources, Farm to ECE includes a self-assessment for child care programs, action planning tools, and a library of tips and materials to help achieve the recommended best practices. The Farm-to-ECE resources will be available through the existing web-based platform for child care programs at https://gonapsacc.org.
“The ability to leverage the Go NAPSACC platform to further expand the Farm to ECE movement to additional ECE programs is a tremendous opportunity,” observed Linda Jo Doctor, Program Officer at WKKF. “Access to healthy food is critical to the development of children and their success in school and life. We are excited to fund this initiative that will get good food into ECE facilities and support local farmers and businesses.”