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Kindergarten Initiative

Core Elements

This section outlines the aspects of an intervention that are central to its theory and logic and that are thought to be responsible for the intervention’s effectiveness.  Core elements are critical features of the intervention’s intent and design and should be kept intact when the intervention is implemented or adapted. 

Kindergarten teachers and farmers are the essential program drivers. Without their support and early commitment, the program is unable to reach parents and children. 

  1. Select schools to recruit. The first task in setting up a KI program is to choose schools that would benefit from the program.  In selecting schools, consider giving preference to schools located in areas where a high percentage of children are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.

  1. Write proposals and apply for funding. To get started, schools should look to external sources for grant funding; community organizations may be willing to fund program costs. Various websites provide information about the availability of grants.  Because KI is a farm to school program, it has broad appeal that extends to supporters of education, health, and agriculture. 

  1. Work with district administrators/school board/teachers to adapt the curriculum to create a standards-based framework for teaching nutritional and local farming concepts to kindergarteners. A curriculum alignment plan integrates nutrition and agriculture education into regular core-curriculum lessons and enables teachers to more easily integrate the key concepts.

  1. Identify and recruit local farmers to: a) supply and deliver products to schools for snacks, b) host field trips that connect children to growing and the local farm system and c) supply fruits and vegetables to fill orders for the kindergarten farm store.

  1. Train and provide ongoing support to kindergarten teachers. Training and the use of KI educational materials shared by The Food Trust allow kindergarten teachers to integrate nutrition, agriculture and physical activity into their curricula.  The Food Trust recommends that teachers aim to teach these lessons at least 8 hours per month. 

  1. Promote test-tasting and experiential learning.  Teachers should provide children with the opportunity to taste a variety of healthy, local snacks every week (preferably two to three times per week). Take students to visit local farms, farmers’ markets, supermarkets, factories and other local food institutions where students can apply what they learn in the classroom.  A key to the success of The Kindergarten Initiative is developing an education strategy that works with the community to enable children to apply the nutritional and local farming concepts they learn in school.

  1. Involve parents and the community by maintaining regular communication with all stakeholders. Parents constitute an important focus of the intervention; they can influence the amount of fruits and veggies their children eat each dayBring the community on board, including the media, local chefs, supermarkets and other local businesses. Use newsletters and surveys to establish a strong network of dedicated stakeholders in the community, at home, and in school. To maintain consistent personal contact with all educational stakeholders, use mailings for special events, monthly newsletters, letters of appreciation, and surveys of attitudes.  This communication will help ensure that children continue to be educated about nutritional and local farming concepts even after they leave the classroom.