Officials from Bright from the Start, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Organics are calling their recent 2013 Farm to Preschool Summit, held Sept. 13-14 in Atlanta, a huge success. More than 150 people attended the two-day summit, which was the first of its kind in the nation. Regional experts shared best practices in gardening, food education and innovative local food procurement strategies.
DECAL Commissioner Bobby Cagle said the summit accomplished multiple goals.
“This emphasis on greater use of locally grown fruits and vegetables in child care programs helps fight the childhood obesity that plagues our state and our country,” Cagle said. “It also encourages collaborative relationships between child care programs and local farmers and producers, which is great for our economy.”
On Saturday, Cagle was joined by Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, in presenting the first-ever Georgia SHAPE awards. Ten child care programs were recognized for going above and beyond Georgia’s licensing standards in the areas of nutrition and physical activity.
“Farm to Preschool and SHAPE-recognized day care facilities provide a foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity for our little ones, beginning at a very early age,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re talking about our future, so reducing obesity among our preschoolers is critical.”
Georgia SHAPE award winners included:
- Kids-R-Kids #27 in Duluth
- Dade Head Start/Early Head Start in Trenton
- Westside Head Start/Early Head Start in Rocky Face
- Luella Academy in McDonough
- Little Angels Daycare in Athens
- KinderCare Learning Center #1690 in Marietta
- Greater New Hope Christian Assembly Academy LLC in Stockbridge
- Family Day Care Home operators Eva Polite, Renea Harris, Linda Davis and Susan Paltrineri
DECAL was recently awarded a $337,000 Team Nutrition Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The grant will allow DECAL to expand the Farm to Preschool program and its Caregivers Promoting Healthy Habits initiative to other parts of the state.