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 | 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 Working Group:
Co-Facilitators: Liza Ickes & Lauren Moss