By Cerise Bouchard
“Imagine a time 20 years from now when today’s preschoolers are buying their own groceries, cooking dinner and making decisions about how to feed their growing families.
“Now imagine that each of those young people received 13-plus years of education in a setting that included Farm to School practices. By investing in Farm to School today, not only will members of the next generation be healthier, they will also be more informed consumers who value farmers and support local food systems, not as a novelty, but as a way of life.”
– Tina Garland, Farm to School Program Coordinator, Kentucky Department of Agriculture
In the early 1980s, Growing Together Preschool broke off from the Bluegrass Association of Retarded Citizens to shift the focus of the program from serving only children with physical and mental disabilities to forming the first inclusive preschool program in the area.
Still a pioneering force in the community, GTP this year became the first Farm to Preschool program in Kentucky.
When I returned to Growing Together Preschool as the Executive Director in July 2013, one of my first ideas was to improve the menu offerings and to partner with a farm to offer a CSA (community supported agriculture) program to our families.
Partnering with the same farm for our produce seemed like a natural fit.
I contacted Tina Garland of the Farm to School program with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
She connected us with Lazy Eight Stock Farm.
“I am excited about being part of a project that encourages young children to like eating fresh fruits and vegetables while their food preferences are still forming,” said Carla Bauman of Lazy Eight Stock Farm.
“GTP’s Farm to Preschool program lays the foundation for children making healthy food choices throughout their lives.
“Growing Together Preschool is also improving access to healthy food by providing a site for weekly delivery of fresh, local, organic produce to the families of the preschool students.”
We have all heard the scary news about childhood obesity and the particularly alarming rates in Kentucky.
In early childhood programs, many children are eating the majority of their meals at school.
Food offerings at schools for children of all ages are responsible for contributing to this epidemic but also have the opportunity to improve the health and well-being of all children.
GTP has always been focused on quality improvement initiatives based on the latest research and best practices.
Implementation of the Farm to School program is simply the next step to ensuring that we are making the best decisions to improve and support the development of the whole child.