Farm to Early Care and Education Grantee Programs

OVERALL VISION

To increase, nationally, the number of early care and education (ECE) settings with successful Farm to ECE initiatives to ensure long-term wellness and healthy development for all children.

PROGRAM GOAL

To support states and communities in the development and growth of sustainable, equitable, comprehensive Farm to ECE initiatives that build coalitions and support local food systems.

ASPHN STRATEGY

To provide guidance and leadership to participating states and communities through partner engagement, resources, trainings, networking, and custom technical assistance focused on changing policy, systems and environments.

Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) programs are an innovative evidence-based approach that give young children increased exposure and access to local produce, opportunities to learn about nutrition and agriculture, and hands-on learning through gardening. ASPHN is pleased to work on several Farm to ECE Grantee Programs supporting state and community efforts to establish and strengthen their Farm to ECE initiatives. Learn more about these efforts and the many benefits they provide including:

  • SHAPING HEALTHY HABITS FOR LIFE. The earliest years of life are formative ones for developing taste preferences and healthy eating habits. Farm to ECE activities like taste tests, cooking lessons and gardening offer repeated exposures to new, healthy foods, promoting lifelong healthy food preferences and eating patterns that can decrease the risk for obesity in childhood and beyond.
  • FAMILY & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. Parental involvement tends to be strongest during the early childhood years. Gardening and food-related activities appeal to families and create more opportunities for meaningful family engagement. Young children take home the excitement of learning about new foods and act as a catalyst for change, influencing parent and family food choices. Purchasing local products creates market opportunities for family farmers and bolsters local and regional food systems, while food-based learning educates teachers and providers about healthy habits and their local food system.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION. The experiential learning opportunities associated with Farm to ECE enhance the learning environment and can help achieve early learning standards and support appropriate cognitive, emotional, social and physical development … important priorities for children, parents and providers.

ASPHN’s Farm to ECE Grantee Programs

ASPHN is overseeing the following three Farm to ECE grantee programs. From initiating Farm to ECE programs in REACH communities, to supporting and building capacity in states across the nation, these programs are having a positive impact in their areas.

CABBAGE

ASPHN’s Capacity Building Grant or CABBAGE is working with three Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) recipients to build community-level Farm to ECE initiatives for an eight-month project period.

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FIG

ASPHN’s Farm to Early Care and Education Implementation Grant, or FIG, is funding farm to ECE work with 10 states and the District of Columbia to strengthen their state-level Farm to ECE initiatives with a specific equity focus.

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MINI COIIN

ASPHN is nearing completion of a 3-year mini CoIIN or Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network within which five states (CO, AZ, AL, MN and OH) participated in 2019-2020 and two states (AL and AZ) participated in 2020-2021 to further their Farm to ECE activities.

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Farm To ECE Capacity Building Grant

With funding from CDC-DNPAO and in collaboration with National Farm to School Network (NFSN), ASPHN’s CABBAGE is offering a technical assistance (TA) and funding opportunity for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) recipients to learn about and initiate local farm to ECE programs. The goal of this opportunity is to increase the quality of local ECE settings and increase access to healthy food and environments for young children.

CABBAGE – CAPACITY BUILDING GRANT

EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY (EMU) is working with a Burmese immigrant and refugee population in Battle Creek.  The EMU team is partnering with ECE providers at a new ECE (opening summer 2021) affiliated with the Burma Center. The EMU team is working with teachers to integrate Farm to ECE curricula, support the building of an ECE garden, and providing materials to support Farm to ECE activities. The EMU team will continue to grow this work with additional ECEs later this year.

NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION OF MICHIGAN (NKFM) is working with African American and Latinx residents in Wayne, Westland and Inkster, MI. NKFM is partnering with 5 ECEs in a Farm to ECE learning collaborative. The collaborative includes trainings, peer-to-peer learning and collective problem solving. The NKFM helps ECE providers increase Farm to ECE knowledge, identify and support their Farm to ECE goals and increase the ECE’s local food purchasing.

PARTNERSHIP FOR HEALTHY LINCOLN (PHL) is redressing health disparities in African American and Hispanic communities in Lincoln, Nebraska. Working to build health equitably, the PHL team is partnering with 2 ECEs to integrate Farm to ECE into their settings. PHL is helping each site integrate state-specific Harvest of the Month tastings, indoor and outdoor gardens, farmer connections and Farm to ECE-related family engagement.

Farm To ECE Implementation Grant

ASPHN’s FIG is both a funding and TA opportunity to support public health nutrition professionals advancing Farm to ECE initiatives at the state level. The focus of the FIG is to increase the capacity to implement policy, systems or environmental changes that facilitate long-term sustainable, comprehensive, and equitable Farm to ECE. Learn more about the states participating in the FIG below.

FIG – IMPLEMENTATION GRANT

COLORADO’s Farm to ECE is using a multi-prong approach that is centering equity in the state’s Farm to ECE coalition membership and strategic plan. Colorado awarded nine communities, serving populations historically impacted by inequitable access to nutrient-rich foods, with mini-grants. They are offering trainings to ECE providers about Farm to ECE and gardening, with Master Gardener support. They are offering trainings for Master Gardeners on understanding the ECE setting. The team is also developing a state-specific Farm to ECE guide in English and Spanish, including Harvest of the Month materials and Farm to ECE trainings for farmers and stakeholders.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA is working with partners, stakeholders and providers to enhance Farm to ECE service delivery, communications and programming. DC is establishing an interagency, multi-stakeholder Farm to ECE coalition, and working with the coalition and providers to create a DC specific-curriculum, training, and technical assistance system for Farm to ECE. The team is also building Farm to ECE awareness, working with food systems partners to increase ECE food products grown, and offering ECEs resources to engage families around Farm to ECE.

IOWA is piloting a CACFP Local Food Procurement Incentive program, “Local Food Makes Cents: For Iowa Kids and Farmers.” Over 280 ECEs were interested in participating and 112 ECEs were awarded contracts. The team is supporting the incentive pilot and Farm to ECE by advocating for related legislation and connecting ECEs to the “Choose Iowa Food of the Month” campaign. Additionally, the team is revising their systems of governance to center the network’s structure in equity. They are building a racial equity framework to assess and inform network strategies annually.

MICHIGAN’s Farm to ECE Network hosted 9 ECE, Food Producer and Family focus groups to identify opportunities and barriers for Farm to ECE in the state. These focus groups will inform the state’s expanded use of Go NAP SACC Farm to ECE and corresponding outreach, training and TA statewide. The team will build on this work further by connecting ECEs, food producers, and stakeholders with regional networking events and expanding farm to ECE materials on their website. The Michigan Farm to ECE Network will also participate in a racial equity workshop to strengthen capacity to identify and address inequities.

MINNESOTA is integrating ECE providers into their Farm to ECE network and strategic visioning.  The team is educating state policymakers on the value of adding ECEs to the state’s local food reimbursement program. Minnesota is also increasing Farm to ECE programs with greater Farm to ECE online training access, a Farm to ECE website, Farm to ECE materials in 4 languages, a pilot Farm to ECE mini grant program, and a Farm to ECE newsletter and listserv. The team is also ensuring this work addresses issues of food access using GIS mapping to identify ECEs with the greatest healthy food access challenges.

MISSISSIPPI is establishing a statewide cross-sector Farm to ECE committee to build a Farm to ECE strategic plan and support state Farm to ECE efforts. The team is also developing and testing statewide Farm to ECE resources, building a Farm to ECE webpage, and managing a mini grant program that targets ECE providers in the highest areas of need. There was a lot of interest among ECEs to join the Mississippi Farm to ECE pilot, with 90 applicants for 27 slots. The state will host farmer and ECE networking events, trainings and materials to foster ECE providers’ connections to local food producers.

NEW MEXICO is building a diverse, cross-sector, New Mexico Grown Alliance to support an interagency procurement policy and incentivized procurement system. The team will increase Farm to ECE statewide with a communication and promotion plan, an alignment of Farm to ECE with the state QRIS indicators, statewide recognition program, networking opportunities for farmers and ECE providers, and a certified grower list for ECEs. In addition, to ensure equitable Farm to ECE access, the state will offer accessible trainings, support, a pilot program and resources in English, Spanish, and Navajo that include COVID-safe practices.

NORTH CAROLINA‘s Farm to Preschool Network disseminated a statewide Farm to ECE assessment, to identify Farm to ECE strengths and opportunities (with 656 participants) and attracted over 300 ECEs and mentor applications for mini grants. To increase Farm to ECE awareness and access, the team is promoting Farm to ECE success stories,  integrating racial equity into state strategies, and releasing a co-developed food preparation and gardening guide for local foods in compliance with state Child Environmental Health sanitation rules. Growing the Farm to ECE movement in North Carolina is the ultimate goal.

OHIO‘s Farm to ECE coalition has increased coalition structures, diversity and cross-sector expertise, with a three-fold increase in new members. Several new members are ECE providers or food producers. The coalition is participating in equity workshops, helping to inform their creation of a state Farm to ECE strategy. Ohio is increasing Farm to ECE access with Farm to ECE-specific food safety materials and videos. In addition, the team is also designing and launching a Farm to ECE innovative local procurement pilot in three Head Start sites.

VERMONT is establishing and formalizing their statewide Farm to ECE coalition with charter language, diversified membership and expanded structure. The coalition is aligning Farm to ECE strategies with the state’s QRIS program to increase Farm to ECE accessibility, promote engagement, and support ECE program quality among early childhood providers. The team is increasing Farm to ECE awareness in the state with a new Farm to ECE website, success stories, and state-specific local purchasing toolkits for both ECEs and food producers. When the toolkits are complete, the coalition will market, disseminate and train ECEs and food producers on how to use the toolkit.

WASHINGTON Farm to ECE statewide coalition is creating a diverse and sustainable Community of Practice and body of work to support Farm to ECE. They are building programmatic capacity by developing comprehensive online Farm to ECE trainings and a self-assessment for providers, connecting with Tribal communities to learn from and highlight their efforts and increase culturally-responsive Farm to ECE materials, monitoring state-level policy, educating policymakers about the value of Farm to ECE initiatives and developing success stories. To center their work in equity and ensure sustainability, the coalition is conducting an equity assessment and creating a sustainability plan.

Obesity Mini Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Network

The purpose of the 2019-2021 ASPHN Obesity Mini CoIIN was to support and enhance state level farm to ECE initiatives to increase the quality of ECE settings and access to healthy environments for young children by providing technical guidance and support for state teams utilizing a quality improvement process to increase the number of ECEs conducting sustainable, comprehensive farm to ECE.

All state teams focused on utilizing the CoIIN process to further their farm to ECE activities and had providers simultaneously include procurement and serving local food in the ECE setting, growing edible gardens, and embedding food and agricultural literacy into the content of the ECE program. Farm to ECE initiatives adapt to diverse ECE types, capacities and resources. The CoIIN approach helped states learn from one another how to make those adaptations and learn collaboratively how to track their progress toward common benchmarks to achieve their farm to ECE goals.

MINI COIIN – COLLABORATIVE IMPROVEMENT & INNOVATION NETWORKS – 2021 State Participants

ALABAMA ran its newly developed Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative with ECE providers caring for children in more economically depressed areas of Alabama. Alabama built its learning collaborative based on survey results and focus group feedback. They incorporated a mini grant opportunity into their collaborative and helped ECE providers work with Master Gardeners to develop outdoor gardens. See the Alabama Farm to ECE’s Coalition Strategic Plan.

ARIZONA integrated their comprehensive online farm to ECE trainings on farm to ECE procurement, nutrition and agriculture education in the ECE, and gardening into an early learning collaborative. The collaborative allowed ECE providers to learn from each other, participate in goal setting and complete farm to ECE assessments. Arizona also worked on translating the farm to ECE trainings into Spanish. Learn more about Arizona farm to school and ECE initiatives.

Farm to ECE Resources

The Farm to ECE 2021 Annual Learning Session

A virtual learning session for all ASPHN Farm to ECE grantees took place March 29-31, 2021. The objectives we addresses during the 2021 annual learning session were 1) Build farm to ECE knowledge and skills; 2) Identify farm to ECE as a tool to address social determinants of health; 3) Understand coalition structures and processes that help address equity; and 4) Network within and between farm to ECE grantee teams.

FARM TO ECE EVIDENCE BASE
Diane Harris, PhD, MPH, CHES, Senior Health Scientist and Team Lead, CDC

FARM TO ECE – EXPERIENCE FROM THE FIELD
Facilitator: Brianna Dumas, MPH, RDN, Orise Fellow, CDC
Panelists: Monica Jackson, Owner and Educator, MJ Family Child Care; Kena and Mark Guttridge, Owners and Farmers, Ollin Farms; Heather Hauswirth, RD, Farm to ECE Program Specialist, Boulder County Public Health

PLAN-DO-STUDY-ACT IN THEORY: PDSA’S AND THEIR VALUE IN PUBLIC HEALTH
Sandy Perkins, MS, RD, MCH Nutrition Expert and Public Health Nutrition, ASPHN

SOCIAL AND EMOTION BENEFITS OF FARM TO ECE & OUTDOOR LEARNING
Facilitator: Lacy Stephens, MS, RD, Senior Program Manager, NFSN
Speakers: Sheila Humphreys, MEd, Farm to School Program Coordinator, Food Connects; Diona Williams, MA, MEd, Professor, Tribal Community College on the Tohono O’odham Nation, and Owner and Educator, Out Back Learning, LLC

ADDRESSING FOOD SECURITY THROUGH COMMUNITY BASED INITIATIVES
Moderator: Caron Gremont, MA, Early Childhood Director, Share Our Strength/ No Kid Hungry
Panelists: Sarah Adams-Kollitz, Director, Burlington Children’s Place, Vermont; Dr. Curtis Chavez, PhD, MS, Development Director, Keres Children’s Learning Center, New Mexico; Andrea Lopez, CentroNía Food and Wellness Program Officer, District of Columbia; Wande Okunoren-Meadows, Executive Director, Little Ones Learning Center & Hand, Heart and Soul Project, Georgia

UNDOING RACISM IN COALITIONS: PRACTICING THE CONCEPTS
Dietra Hawkins, PsyD, MA, Founder and President, Both And Partners, Inc

APPLYING THE NFSN RACIAL AND SOCIAL EQUITY ASSESSMENT TOOL FOR FARM TO ECE PROGRAMS AND POLICIES
Lacy Stephens, MS, RD, Senior Program Manager, National Farm to School Network

HISTORICAL PATTERNS AND POLICIES DRIVING THE U.S. FOOD SYSTEMS
tessa eliza thraves, Farm to School Coordinator, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, NC State University

THE IMPORTANCE AND APPLICATION OF ASSET-BASED LANGUAGE
Alena Paisano, NM Farm to ECE Coordinator, NM Value Chain Coordination Network Project Manager

Our Partners

The Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) is the administrative lead for this project and would like to thank the ASPHN Farm to ECE Advisory Committee. The advisory committee includes experts in farm to school/ECE programming, maternal and child health, program evaluation, CoIIN processes and public health programming support. These committee members have volunteered their time, creativity and passion to support the organization and implementation of ASPHN’s Farm to ECE grantee programs.

ASPHNs farm to ECE grantee programs are supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of cooperative agreement number NU38OT000279-04. These projects, along with many others, are funded through this cooperative agreement that totals $3,245,000. One hundred percent of these projects are funded by the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO)/ National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) /CDC/HHS. The contents of this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, DNPAO/NCCDPHP/CDC/HHS, or the United States (US).

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