A Critical Head Start for Pre-Schoolers: Eating Healthy Foods

bringing the people behind our food to life we've been doing a lot of talking about carrots haven't we what color is this carrot yellow white orange harvest for Healthy Kids got started about three years ago when Mount Hood Community College had start reached out to me they were just interested in bringing a wider variety of fruits and vegetables into their food service program and also bringing locally grown foods into their classroom education we're currently in our second year of the program and last year was really a year spent planning the logistics previously fruits and vegetables were certainly served but there wasn't a specific focus on locally grown fruits and vegetables every month there is one fruit or vegetable that's featured throughout the month and served twice a week during lunchtime so for this month for October carrots are the future food and other featured foods include winter squashes cabbage sweet potatoes winter root vegetables which include rutabaga parsnip and turnips asparagus berries and beets no just the orange carrots to take the tray go ahead and take one little studies have shown that eight to ten exposures is needed to change a child's preference for a new food it really depends on how it tastes how its presented the social context you know what's nice about having this type of a program in a setting such as Head Start is that the children are watching other children enjoying a new food the children are watching the teacher enjoying a new food they're being rewarded for trying something new and different what does it taste like does it taste like an orange carrot does it taste like there's going to be some children who it will have 20 exposures and still aren't willing to even try a new food or vegetable this is called all of Earth's vegetables in addition to eating the foods during meals the children are engaged in various activities that focus on the featured food the children are cooking with carrots they are doing carrot art activities they're reading books about carrots and gardening the featured food is really being integrated into the rhythm of the head start day one of the challenges has been trying to find local growers who can supply the amount of the feature food needed to serve all of the children in the program the mountain hood Community College headstart program serves almost a thousand children this is a program that was developed with teachers what makes it different from many other nutrition education programs is that it addresses childhood obesity by encouraging better eating habits it contributes to a vibrant and resilient local food system which is very important given that our current industrialized food system is not very sustainable I find that there's never enough fruits and vegetables to go around when given the opportunity children will eat fruits and vegetables as long as children are exposed to highly processed high sugar high fat foods given only limited opportunities to try a new food to the fruit or vegetable you know that that's that's the palate that they'll develop and children's food preferences are strongly influenced by the early food experiences and as children get older it becomes harder and harder to change some of those food habits so with Farm to School and farming to child care or farm to preschool the hope is that by intervening early we'll be able to help children develop preferences for foods that promote their Thank You babies these are called shin Kuroda and it's a Japanese variety that we found just do really really well here this time of year they have a really great sweet flavor and very nice crunchy texture you


  1. This should be implemented nationwide and customized right up to High School. Eating healthier should be a choice for them and so they will easily resist high-fat low nutrient foods as their preferences for these types of food will change.

  2. Wow this is so incredible!

  3. I did the same in my house and still had a picky one too. I liked that she confirmed my thoughts, that no matter how many times you try, sometimes a food will not be accepted. I have to add, tho, as my kids got older – into their teen years – their picky-ness went away and they began exploring all kinds of good food! I know there are kids who eat all kinds of great fruits & vegetables w/o thinking twice about it – but they didn't live in my house. =)

  4. Good point, & that is on their 'drawing table'. They recently got a new grant & are hoping to expand in several directions. From the written post [via link above]: “We would love to have a CSA program where Head Start families could pick up [their] share when they’re picking up their child,” she said, adding that they’re also hoping to provide ingredients so a family can prepare the recipe that was cooked in the classroom that day.". It'd be great to have it continue outside the classroom.

  5. I think this is a great program to get kids to try new things, and also teach early on that not all vegetables come standard.

  6. Nice program! Great way to get kids to eat their veggies. I also can see a future in the culinary arts with the cooking aspect of it. 🙂

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