People often ask me what I do. Well….. Sometimes I don’t know how to answer the question or even where to begin the story. If I worked at a school, hospital, grocery store, or a farm, it would be much easier to explain. People generally understand jobs like that. The problem is...I work a little with all of the above to help children know where their food comes from, have access to healthy locally grown food, and to be given the opportunity for daily play.
Oh, I don’t do it all myself. The NE Iowa Food & Fitness (FFI) Early Childhood team helps tremendously in the daily work. We work with local foods, farmers, schools, preschools, daycares, administrators, families, and teachers to implement Farm to Early Care and Education (or F2ECE). We work to increase access to good food in early childhood settings, equip early childhood professionals to promote wellness, engage parents in transformational activities that will influence how families eat at home, and ultimately, improve health outcomes for children in Northeast Iowa and beyond.
Currently this is a snapshot what my work looks like:
F2ECE is implemented in 82 NE Iowa early childhood settings, using our free curriculum and other resources.
578 NE Iowa early childhood professionals participated this past year in training related to wellness, parent engagement, and systems change.
382 Meals were prepared in homes by NE Iowa Head Start families using F2ECE recipes.
182 Parents attended engagement activities organized by FFI in NE Iowa.
NE Iowa FFI Early Childhood team has 5 members and numerous supporters in the field.
We have granted over 90 Mini Grant Awards and hundreds of free fruit and vegetable seeds to early child care providers and teachers since 2015 to help implement F2ECE in their classrooms.
Since 2016, we joined forces with Iowa Association of Education for Young Children (Iowa AEYC) to scale the NE Iowa F2ECE model across the state of Iowa. We supported expansion of F2ECE in five counties beyond NE Iowa.
Over 4079 children participated in a F2ECE program in their daycare or preschool in 11 Iowa counties.
I am part of a national F2ECE Learning Group funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Directions to access ‘Together We Grow Healthy Kids’ Curriculum and other F2ECE resources: