Helping Children Learn About Food
The Healthy Preschool Project (HPP) is in its fourth year of operation, serving qualifying communities demonstrating high free/reduced lunch percentages in the local public schools. The 2017 participating communities included Arundel, Sanford and Biddeford. All programs must also be able to commit to collaboration with the project coordinator to schedule and support programming.
Depending on the centers needs and schedules, staff may visit monthly, or more or less frequently. Project staff usually delivers programs that range from 1/2 hour to 2 hours. Other visits between lessons make also take place to troubleshoot in the garden, make a garden supply or produce delivery, etc.
The two core parts of HPP are:
1) Harvest of the Month: Includes a story, an activity, and a taste test centering on a local farm fruit or veggie. Fresh foods are put in the context of plant parts, seasonality, and variety. We emphasize that a taste test includes all five senses and support trying new things, making observations, and enjoyment of our fruits and veggies together. In winter and early spring, we connect our taste test with various planting and seed-starting activities.
2) Gardening: HPP was able to offer another round of donated garden beds, soil, and seeds/seedlings to our participating programs in 2017. Some were expanding existing gardens, others were starting gardens. We use the gardens to grow herbs and veggies for taste tests and cooking projects, observe plant life cycles, and understand garden communities.
Several generous partners have made HPP possible: Tibbetts Family Farm, Hancock Lumber, Learning Works, and Johnny’s Seeds.
The Healthy Preschool Project is administered by Isabel Neal, who has served as the project coordinator for the past year. Neal builds partnerships, recruits, and manages volunteers and delivers farm-to-preschool education to preschools and Head Start programs. She has a Master Gardener Certification from the UMaine Cooperative Extension and graduated from Pitzer College 2012. Communities interested in HPP should contact Isabel Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.