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Kindergarten Initiative

Overview

Created with the goal of increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and providing a new market for farmers, The Kindergarten Initiative (KI) takes an integrated, holistic approach to educating children about food and how it grows.  Lessons integrating nutrition and healthy habits were developed to fit Pennsylvania educational standards; however, they can be adapted to meet the educational standards for other states. Learning how food grows and who grows it in combination with frequent food tastings may help increase fruit and vegetable consumption among young children.

The Kindergarten Initiative has 3 key components:

  1. Serving locally grown, healthy snacks to kindergarten students in the classroom two to three times a week

  2. Integrating nutrition and local food/agriculture education into the standard core curriculum, including identification of fruits and vegetables, learning about healthy snacks and understanding that food comes from a farm

    • KI instructional activities include a) students taking seasonal field trips to local farms two to three times a year to learn about the local food system, b) teachers conducting activities about growing food in the classroom and in school gardens, and c) students participating in nutrition lessons in the classroom

    • cooking demonstrations, including some for parents only and some for parents and children

    • newsletters about what children are learning and about upcoming events

    • supermarket tours

    • mini-farm store — parents are invited to order a variety of local, seasonal foods several times during the school year (like a book club order form) and local farmers supply the produce

  1. Partnering with parents/caregivers by providing/arranging for:

    • cooking demonstrations, including some for parents only and some for parents and children

    • newsletters about what children are learning and about upcoming events

    • supermarket tours

    • mini-farm store — parents are invited to order a variety of local, seasonal foods several times during the school year (like a book club order form) and local farmers supply the produce

Intended population: Kindergarten students and their parents

Secondary Audience: Teachers, farmers and administrators

Setting:  Preference given to schools located in areas where a high percentage of children are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.

Length of time in the field:  The Kindergarten Initiative began as a yearlong pilot study in four Philadelphia schools during the 2004-2005 school year.  During the following school year (2005-2006), the Kindergarten Initiative added six new schools.  As a result of the pilot study, in 2006, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Program Act and appropriated state funds to support a grant program for local schools to implement the Kindergarten Initiative.  In the first year of the HFHS program (2007-2008), 46 schools received state funding. The following year 53 schools received funding. The program has also been replicated in Massachusetts and Missouri.  To read the Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools legislation, go to the Intervention Materials section of the template.