Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Early Childhood awarded 35 Farm to Early Care and Education Mini Grants to encourage Farm to Early Education in the classrooms during the 2017-2018 school years. Here are photos and a few comments how teachers used funds to improve their program.
New Hampton’s TLC Preschool Teachers Jolene Rosonke, Amanda Ries and Theresa Knutson reported, “We are extremely grateful for these grant opportunities which provide us with the opportunity to expose our preschoolers to some quality experiences about/with healthy and nutritious foods. We read books about each food, talk about where it comes from and how/where it grows, and might have a song we learn about the food. We send home the slick and parent page for each food every month and our preschoolers do the coloring page at the end of every month to review the food.”
Central Community School in Elkader P-K Teachers Kelli Baumler and Caroline Erickson commented about their award, “Our main focus was to expand our preschool garden and expose students to the planting, growing, and harvesting of local foods within the curriculum. We partnered up with our Global Science high school students to build two raised garden beds. The kids helped plant a variety of vegetables. We also spent money on some gardening tools for kids to use.”
Elizabeth Wolfe Preschool Teacher at St. Mary’s Guttenberg stated, “This year was a bit challenging for me since I had extremely picky kids, a diabetic, and a dairy allergy. We spent the grant money on produce and containers to store and prep food. It took some extra prep and research to find dairy-free ingredients and alternatives for recipes and that fit within 10 grams of carbohydrates. I had to brush up on my math skills! As a real-life experience, I asked the middle school students to figure out the carbohydrates per serving for when we made pumpkin pie in a cup. It took a bit for them to figure it out but was a nice experience. While this year was challenging, I gained knowledge myself about the carbs in potatoes and in pretty much everything.”
Shanna Putnam Dibble from West Side Early Childhood Center in Decorah reported, “Each of our 5 classes participates in a weekly Wellness class that focuses on social emotional skills and food and fitness. Each month we did a minimum of one taste test and one cooking experience related to the Food of the Month. We used the mini grant funds to cover the costs of these activities. We also used funds for healthy snacks, fruit and yogurt parfaits, at a family event as well as for our Week of the Young Child Celebration where we had over sixty students’ plant vegetable seeds to take home and share with their families. These mini grants have made so many wonderful learning experiences possible. We are very grateful to have the funds to teach our students about food and fitness!”
Rachael Buresh from the The Northeast Iowa Montessori School talked about how they used funding,” We made raised garden beds so that we can plants seeds that we received from the Pepperfield Project. Our goal is to incorporate the vegetables we grow into our snack that we will have this summer during our Summer Camp. We hope we will do a good job in planting and tending our gardens, so we can utilize the produce.”
Katei Reth from Berry Tender Preschool in Strawberry Point reported, “This has been a fun year with the Farm to Preschool Program! We were able to get more foods from local producers this year (melons from a student’s garden, carrots from Haleisa’s garden, milk from a local goat dairy, and honey from a beekeeper in Greeley). The grant money was primarily used on purchasing food for the students to make and taste. I feel that the students have a strong understanding that all foods are made and grown somewhere, either in our own gardens and kitchens, or in grocery stores, restaurants, factories, or farms far away. As with last year, I found that the pickier eaters became brave, uncomplaining test tasters as the year went on and I will hear kids discussing whether the food they are eating is a healthy food or every-once-in-a-while treat food. I love to hear them thinking about their foods!”
Jackie Rockford Preschool Teacher at Sunrise 3 yr. Preschool told how she used her award, “We used our mini grant reward to purchase books for our preschool library and foods to sample for foods of the month. Thank you for this opportunity, we love your program!
Turkey Valley P-K Teachers Sara Converse and Michelle Tlusky said, “Thanks for the opportunity to grow our program!! With this grant we were able to purchase gardening/yard work supplies, root growers so we can see what happens underneath the ground, books about foods, and gardening to enrich our library, and cooking supplies to use during our monthly food studies. We are very thankful for this program!
Thank you to all the teachers who applied and were awarded. Connecting young children to where their food comes from is a priceless life lesson.