Farm to Early Care and Education Programming: A Descriptive Study of Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Healthful Foods to Young Children

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 19;17(18):6857. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186857.

Abstract

Interest in farm to early care and education (ECE) programming, which consists of gardening, nutrition education, and local food procurement, has been growing in the United States, as it may be a promising technique for promoting healthful foods to young children. However, there is limited information about current farm to ECE efforts in specific states, including Colorado, to support funding and resource needs. An online survey was distributed to licensed Colorado ECE providers in two phases to understand current participation in the farm to ECE as well as provider perspectives on benefits and barriers to programming. A total of 250 surveys were completed. Approximately 60% of ECE facilities participated in gardening and nutrition education with providers almost unanimously agreeing on the child-centric benefits of programming. Fewer facilities (37%) participated in local food procurement likely due to significant time, cost, and knowledge barriers. To increase participation in farm to ECE as a technique for promoting healthful foods to young children, future efforts should focus on innovative solutions to reduce ECE-specific barriers.

Keywords: child; child day care centers; child health; education; farms; food; gardens; preschool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural