By Staci Hemesath and Teresa Wiemerslage
Local food training workshops for child care providers were held on October 2, 9, and 16 at the Kirkwood Corporate Training Center in Hiawatha, IA. Training was led by Teresa Wiemerslage, field specialist with the ISU Extension Local Foods Team and was coordinated by Kelly Hanson with the Association for Education of Youth Children.
Representatives from 22 child care programs attended at least a portion of or all of the trainings.
In the first session, Introduction to Food Systems, participants learned how to set a definition of local that makes sense for their program and began to identify potential farms and food sources.
In Session 2, Exploring Iowa Foods, participants worked in small groups to brainstorm how to serve regional foods from the Teacher Box program, as well as plan additional lessons and activities to complement the featured foods. This session also included information on small-scale gardening.
“I was excited to win a Teacher Box,” said Bobbie Nelson, owner of Bright Beginnings Child Care, Coralville. “I brought home the Cabbage Box and couldn’t wait to share it with my littles. We talked about the color, the size, what it smelled like, how it might taste and what it may look like on the inside. We discovered that it doesn’t matter what color it is. The cabbages taste the same. We followed one of the recipes provided to make Greek yogurt coleslaw. I loved seeing the kids reactions and can’t wait to do another activity!”
The third and final session, Menu Planning, gave participants the opportunity to review menus for their programs and identify how to include local foods.
Participants worked through several worksheets to think about farm to school lessons and menus at their sites. Participants who successfully completed plans are eligible for a mini-grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.
“I can’t even tell you how appreciative I am to be a part of the Farm To Early Child Care Learning group. It has made such an impact on me and has changed the way that I feel about food,” said Nelson.
Participant Evaluation Highlights – Biggest take home message:
- Local foods and where to get them. The Iowa Food Hub interests me as far as contacting them to see what I can do to secure access to more of a variety of foods.
- Important to serve local, fresh food and for the children to know where it came from and how it grew
- I am so enthusiastic about changing my menus and to include locally grown foods
- Defining local
- How easy it can be to incorporate local foods into my program even on a small basis and in home
- Buying local is easier than thought
- To include this food information and gardening into our classroom curriculum
- Buying local will not “break the bank”