Healthy Eating Habits Start Early

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An attendee at a Family Engagement Day Celebration in honor of Ohio Healthy Programs providers completes an activity to learn about healthy eating.

Healthy Eating Habits Start Early
Ohio Healthy Programs for the Family Child Care Provider

This impact story is one in a series of success stories highlighting the benefits of Ohio Healthy Programs.

Ohio Healthy Programs for the Family Child Care Provider was developed by the Ohio Department of Health with the goal to reduce childhood obesity rates by providing tools and ideas to help in-home day care providers build healthier environments for positive growth and development for children, specifically those birth to five years of age. Children’s Hunger Alliance last year led 119 in-home child care providers in 19 counties through the program.

Erica Steele is an in-home family childcare provider in Cincinnati who recently completed Ohio Healthy Programs for the Family Child Care Provider. She is a testament to the goals and purpose of the program. For almost a decade, she has spent every day of the week making sure the children in her care have the healthy foods they need to develop and thrive. Erica has always showcased her desire for children’s health and wellbeing, however this program provided the certification and acknowledgements of her current efforts, as well as the tools to further them.Ohio remains a state with one of the highest obesity rates in the nation across all ages.

The youngest Ohioans are the building blocks of our future communities, which is why this program was developed to help foster healthier habits at a young age. In-home child care providers are a pivotal figure in children’s development, and this program has worked to get more nutritious meals on kids’ plates; ones that are full of whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and with limited processed foods and added sugars, if any.

The parents of the children in Erica’s care are busy. They work jobs where their hours fluctuate, and may rely on Erica to provide childcare before school, during the day, afterschool and sometimes during the evening. For many of the children in Erica’s care, eating fast food while commuting to school or to her home is more common than sitting down with their families to enjoy a home-cooked meal. Erica says she is happy that she is able to feed the children in her care healthy food throughout the day to take this burden off of the parents.

Before going through Ohio Healthy Programs for the Family Child Care Provider, Erica was unsure of how to get some of her “picky” eaters to try new meals. After the online trainings she was able to implement the suggestion of allowing the kids in her care to help prepare meals alongside her. As they prepare, they learn more about healthy foods and how those foods fuel their bodies, and that has made a difference in their willingness to try new foods that they had not previously wanted to try. Erica specifically describes one child, Alana, who was previously hesitant to eat new fruits or vegetables but is now excited to help prepare and try new food.

Ohio Healthy Programs for the Family Child Care Provider continues to inspire dedicated in-home childcare providers to try new methods when addressing nutrition, physical activity, and the health of the children in their care. This is just the beginning of a positive spectrum, and by continuing to collaborate and encouraging these gradual shifts to a healthier world, together we promote positive habits for healthy growth and wellness in all children.

Learn more about Ohio Healthy Programs.

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