Young children have tiny bellies and big energy needs.  Eating healthy food, full of vitamins and nutrients helps children get the energy they need to grow, learn, and play. Young children cannot eat healthy foods if healthy foods are not available to them.  Many of our young children in Cuyahoga County do not have access to the healthy foods that they need to grow and thrive.  There are many environmental factors that influence the way that young children eat, including availability, cost, adult food literacy, time, and culture.

Healthy Foods | Our Goal: 

Early Ages Healthy Stages will collaborate with our partners to improve systems and leverage programs that make healthy eating both accessible and desirable in Cuyahoga County.

Healthy Foods | Strategies for Change: The table below outlines what we will do to achieve this goal.

The problem. Young children and families in Cuyahoga County are not eating the recommended amount of healthy foods. Young children develop their preferences for food during early childhood, making it a crucial period to build healthy eating habits for life (ODH, 2016).  In Cleveland, 10.9% of high school students report eating no vegetables daily, far higher than percentage of US high school students at 6.6% (YRBS Cle, 2013).

Healthy Foods | Objective 1.  By December 31st, 2020, Early Ages Healthy Stages Coalition will facilitate and evaluate partnerships between food security initiatives and early care and education providers throughout Cuyahoga County.

  • Hold community forums with local partners and ECE providers to promote opportunities for food security partnerships.

  • Establish contracts between food security initiatives and ECE and other direct service providers, if needed.

  • Develop evaluation measures that are consistent among all programs and initiatives.

  • Documentation of partnerships between ECE sites and healthy food organizations

  • Measuring the number of lbs of foods served at ECE centers

  • Measuring the number of families served by food security partnerships

  • Shared success stories at Coalition meetings annually

Healthy Foods | Objective 2.  By December 31st, 2020, Early Ages Healthy Stages Coalition will, collaborate with community partners to provide tools, technical assistance, and family educational materials to early care and education providers to connect them to Farm to ECE Initiatives.

  • Engage community partners to gather resources for Farm to ECE Initiatives throughout Cuyahoga County related to Farm to ECE domains: procurement, education and experiential learning, and gardening.

  • Modify and/or develop tool kits for connecting ECE providers to local foods initiatives as needed.

  • Connect ECE and other direct service providers to Farm to ECE activities. Eligible activities could include: taste tests, field trips to farm or farmers’ market, cooking demos, culinary training for staff or families, or curriculum and sustainability of initiative.

  • Secure funding for activities for broader dissemination of initiatives, if needed.

  • Evaluate initiatives pre, post, and sustainably.

  • Measuring the number of providers and organizations taking “Feed Out Future” Pledge
  • Measuring the number of ECE centers and organizations at which information and educational materials are distributed

  • Measuring the number of resulting contracts and partnerships formed between ECE centers and Farm to ECE initiatives

Healthy Foods | Objective 3.  By December 31st, 2020, Early Ages Healthy Stages Coalition will build partnerships with local gardening initiatives to provide tools, technical assistance, and family educational materials to early care and education facilities for on-site gardens.

  • Conduct community forums to gauge interest in establishing indoor and/or outdoor gardens on site at ECE facilities.

  • Provide professional development for ECE staff and other interested partners on gardening by leveraging already existing programs from local experts.

  • Create “How to garden at early care and education facilities” resource to include; how to use food grown onsite within the food program, how to get reimbursed from the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for gardens in partnership with local experts.

  • Establish gardens on site at ECE facilities.

  • Evaluate the impact of gardens on eating/activity habits of children and families, as well as the sustainability of the project.

  • Measuring the number of new gardens established

  • Measuring the number of children and families reached by gardens
  • Measuring the number of ECE centers reached through initiatives

Healthy Foods | Systems Change Success Story:

Education With Imagination Child Development Center site administrator, Cheryl Johnson, partners with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to provide fresh produce to her families and community.

“During an EAHS meeting at the Cleveland Food Bank we were introduced to programs that the Food Bank offers, including the School Market Program. Many of our families are struggling to buy groceries. By the end of the month money is tight and food is limited. By partnering with the Cleveland Food Bank our families and community can receive healthy food to help their families make it through. As we distribute the healthy foods we hear,“We appreciate what you guys and the Food Bank are doing for the community.” Our families now see that healthy foods are most filling and the children have learned to appreciate different and new types of foods as well. The Food Bank has been a life saver for our community and families. We here at Education with Imagination really appreciate everything the Cleveland Food Bank has done for our families and community and would like to thank EAHS for introducing Education with Imagination to the Cleveland Food Bank and my good friend Laurie. This is a magical connection”

– Cheryl Johnson, Education with Imagination Child Development Center

“In July 2016, Cheryl contacted me to inquire about the School Market Program.  In my role, I develop relationships with organizations that are able to partner with us in providing healthy food to children. I quickly realized that we were missing a huge population of children aged 5 and under.  These included center and home-based ECE sites.   During that first distribution, EWI served 349 people, of which 167 were children.  They have continued distributions without interruption each month of the year since then.  Cheryl and I have joined the EAHS coalition in an effort to expand relationships and knowledge about ways to best serve the Early Childhood population and their families.”

-Laurie Leverette, The Greater Cleveland Food Bank

Healthy Foods  Handouts:

Nutrition Resource Market Vendor Materials

Healthy Foods: Logic Model

Healthy Foods: Strategic Priority One Pager

Key Messages handouts:

Water First For Thirst!

Choose Healthy Foods!

Breastfeeding Welcome Here!

Make Breakfast Count!

Make Snacks Count!


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