Stepping Stones Early Learning Center is taking nutrition and healthy development to a new level by bringing local, farm-fresh fruits and veggies straight to their students. This initiative, the Farm to Preschool program, is part of Stepping Stones’ recently-implemented Learning About Nutrition through Activities (LANA) curriculum.
Through the Farm to Preschool program, children at Stepping Stones participate in weekly tastings where they sample a fruit or vegetable from a local farm in its raw form, then try the fruit or vegetable incorporated into a chef-prepared meal. One week, children tasted raw cherries. The cherries were then transformed into fruit compote they could use to top their waffles. Program participants also get to take field trips to local farms and farmers markets to learn about the origins of their food.
Aaron Nelson, director of Stepping Stones Early Learning Center, emphasizes the importance of introducing children to nutritious foods early on. “Children need to eat these fresh fruits and vegetables,” Nelson says. “And a lot of children aren’t getting these nutrients in their diets.”
By exposing children to healthy options at a young age, they will not only acquire a taste for those foods, but they will fill up on the fuel they need for their growth and development. Eli Orbell, a 5-year-old student at Stepping Stones, is already ingesting the core nuggets of the curriculum. “It is important to eat lots of fruits and vegetables to get bigger and stronger,” he says.