- Author: Susan L Lafferty
Denise Cuendett and Sue Lafferty, Nutrition Educators with the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Kings County promoted current USDA Dietary Guidelines along with exercise to support healthier communities. In collaboration with West Hills Community College Early Childhood Development Centers, the Piece Conference, “Practicing Intervention Early for Childhood Educators” was held on Saturday, March 4, 2017 in Lemoore, California.
Over 300 early childhood educators participated in the conference with a goal to increase healthy eating knowledge and nutrition-related teaching skills. During the UC CalFresh breakout session “Nutrition for Children”, the importance of nutrition in early childhood and role of nutrition education were discussed. Educators agreed that good nutrition would prevent childhood obesity and establish healthy eating and physical activity habits early on that would last a lifetime. They also agreed that nutrition education would provide and support positive feeding environments and best practices for children that included written nutrition policies, positive nutrition feeding practices, physical activity and staff and parent training. The research information regarding the importance of nutrition education in child care programs was provided by Deepa Srivastava, Ph.D., Nutrition, Family & Consumer Science Advisor for Kings/Tulare Counties.
UC CalFresh staff emphasized the use of books to teach nutrition. Using the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle educators can teach children how to sort using colors (The same colors of MyPlate). Let children search
While early childhood educators were encouraged to adopt positive feeding practices such as healthy eating role modeling behaviors, they were reminded to not use food as a reward. In addition to teaching healthy eating, educators were also encouraged to create child-friendly environments and teach children good manners, cooperation and pro-social behaviors.
A list of healthy party snacks was given to all in attendance. Tips to help educators encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables included the following:
- Let kids try small portions – be patient
- Offer one (1) new food at a time
- Be a good role model – try new foods yourself and describe the taste, texture and smell
- Offer new foods first ( at the beginning of a meal)
- Offer new foods many times – it can take up to a dozen tries to accept new food
At the end of the session the group made a healthy butterfly snack using snack bags, clothes pins, pipe cleaners and of course “healthy trail mix”