Farm to Preschool Program Brings Fresh Foods to Urban Preschool Plates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Zoë Phillips, Farm to Preschool Program Manager UEPI, Occidental College
323-341-5098 (office), 323-258-2917 (fax)

FARM TO PRESCHOOL PROGRAM BRINGS FRESH FOODS TO URBAN PRESCHOOL PLATES
Preschoolers Tend Their Garden and Demonstrate Their Salad-Making Skills

LOS ANGELES (May 12, 2011) – Forget junk food–preschool age children at Magnolia Place are preparing and eating cucumber salad, tending to an onsite garden and learning about food systems from their teacher. It’s all part of the Farm to Preschool program, a two-year pilot, funded by grants from The Kresge Foundation and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and organized through a partnership between Occidental College’s Urban & Environmental Policy Institute and the Magnolia Place Family Center’s Children’s Bureau and PACE Early Childhood Education Head Start preschool programs. Ryan Reddy, Children’s Bureau Head Teacher says, “Our involvement in Farm to Preschool has given our students multiple exposures, in various contexts, to fresh produce. They have learned that trying new foods can be fun, and their overall opinion of fresh produce has improved dramatically. These foundational changes in their perspectives will have lasting effects on each child’s ability to make healthy food choices.”

What: More than 60 child care agencies and preschools from Long Beach to Santa Clarita are sending representatives to learn more about how this program can be adopted for their various urban locations.

When: Thursday, May 12th from 8:30am-12:30pm

Where: Magnolia Place Family Center (Johnson Auditorium and preschool playground) 1910 Magnolia Ave, Los Angeles 90007 (Near intersection of Washington and Hoover, south of downtown Los Angeles)

Through the Farm to Preschool program, kids between the ages of three and five years old learn about nutrition and local food systems as well as how to grow their own vegetables. The program also aims to increase access to fresh fruit and produce at Los Angeles and San Diego preschools by encouraging preschool operators to purchase from local farms. “The program has been immensely successful with preschoolers, families and teachers. We want to address the childhood obesity epidemic by helping kids and their families have better access to, and develop a preference for, fresh fruits and vegetables.” Says Program Manager Zoe Phillips, “This is one great way we can begin to accomplish that.”

The program has made an impact beyond the children to their parents and families through facilitated discussions on healthy eating and cooking demonstrations that emphasize homemade fresh food. Says Mary Helen Vasquez, Child Development Director, Children’s Bureau, “The Farm to Preschool program has brought an awareness about fruits and vegetables for the children that has resulted in children being involved in what is selected when they go to the market with their parents.”

Today’s Demonstration Day is attracting child care agencies and preschools from Long Beach to Santa Clarita including: Connections for Children, LAUP (LA Universal Preschool), LA Valley College, LAUSD (LA Unified School District), Lynwood USD, Hacienda-La Puente USD, Santa Monica-Malibu USD, Long Beach Day Nursery, LACOE (LA County Office of Education), ELACC (East LA Community Corporation) and Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, which operates in multiple counties.

Interviews and Follow Up Questions
Please contact us to arrange interviews with program participants and organizers, including:

  • Zoë Phillips, Farm to Preschool Program Manager, UEPI, Occidental College
  • Rosa Romero, Farm to Preschool Program Coordinator, UEPI, Occidental College
  • Mary Helen Vasquez, Child Development Director, Children’s Bureau
  • Marina Aguillen, Site Supervisor, PACE ECE Head Start
  • Roberta Tinajero, Healthy Eating Active Living Manager, Kaiser Permanente

About Magnolia Place Family Center
Magnolia Place Family Center, dedicated in October 2008, serves as a community hub for families to meet, share, grow, and socialize with their friends and neighbors. The Family Center is a 46,000 square foot facility on three acres. Multiple organizations provide comprehensive programs and services in four areas which experts agree are the keys to strengthening families: nurturing parenting, economic stability, good health and school readiness.

About Occidental College and UEPI
Occidental College is a small liberal arts college located in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Occidental is regularly ranked as one of the most diverse college campuses in the country, and encourages its students and faculty to engage Community-Based Learning opportunities. The Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) at Occidental College is a community-oriented research and advocacy organization with a mission of creating a more just, livable and democratic region. UEPI serves as the umbrella for a variety of affiliated programs addressing work and industry, food and nutrition, housing, transportation, regional and community development, land use, and urban environmental issues.

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Posted in California Farm to School, Farm to Preschool, Press Release

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