Halloween may come just once a year, but there are many ways emphasize the fun without overdoing it on candy and sweet treats.
Shift the focus of your Halloween celebration away from candy and have fun with healthy snacks, active games, and non-food prizes instead.
More than 3.3 million children across the U.S. will eat healthier meals and snacks, thanks to recent revisions to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These new dietary rules and suggested best practices may serve as a useful guide for you, even if your program or child care facility does not participate in the subsidized program.
As designated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), September is National Childhood Obesity Month. Nationally, roughly one in five children suffers from obesity. In central Indiana, those numbers are worse. Jump IN for Healthy Kids is focused on changing those numbers and helping children and families lead healthier lives.
Across central Indiana, child care providers of all shapes and sizes are making changes to improve the health of the children they serve. Some have dramatically changed their menus, adding whole grains, eliminating processed foods, and increasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Some have stopped using candy and sweets as rewards for desired behavior. Many have eliminated sugary beverages like lemonade and fruit juice. A few have started gardens and engage children in caring for the plants, picking and prepping the produce, and eating the fruits and vegetables.
At Jump IN, one of our focus areas is early childhood education. Very young children who learn healthy habits around nutrition and physical activity are more likely to be at a healthy weight as they get older. Conversely, preschoolers who are overweight or obese are five times more likely to become overweight or obese as adults. Equally troubling, the prevalence of obesity among U.S. preschoolers has doubled in recent decades and keeps getting worse.
Child care providers tell us that they would prefer to serve healthy food in their centers and homes, but the expense is a constant barrier. We are always working to find lower-cost ways to access healthy food, and we have a resource we are happy to share, the Healthier Generation Store with Amazon Business. It's an online marketplace for purchasing food that meets CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program) guidelines. The Store currently stocking non-perishables and plans to expand to produce, meat and dairy, to eventually be a full-service store for child care providers. Because it's available across the country, it offers lower prices and free delivery anywhere with a minimum $25 purchase. And because it's connected to Amazon, providers can add on to their order other items they may need, also for delivery - everything that Amazon offers.
The things that children learn when they're young provide stepping stones for the rest of their lives. This is why it is so important for children to learn and practice healthy behaviors in positive environments from the start. Childcare facilities are the perfect places to provide healthy foundations for children, and we have 3 easy practices to help you get started on making health and wellness a priority in your childcare facility.
You've been reading about Jump IN for Healthy Kids' participation in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge and we're happy to feature another organization doing great work in greater Lawrence and the far east side, Mt. Carmel Church. Our work in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge is to address childhood overweight and obesity in a four-zip code area using a comprehensive, multi-sector approach. We work with child care providers; schools; and workplaces; and we address food access so that families have healthy, affordable food; and the built environment to ensure that children and families have access to enough opportunities for physical activity. Mt. Carmel resides in that area, and we are happy to support their work as part of our Challenge. Mt. Carmel also has a multi-sector approach to supporting its community, addressing food access, children's after-school activities, community financial needs, and high school education.
Jump IN for Healthy Kids has a close partner in Early Learning Indiana, helping our work to reduce overweight and obesity prevalence in children. Research tells us that children establish their habits around nutrition and physical activity by age five, so ensuring they learn healthy behaviors early on is critical. We reach these young children through the Taking Steps to Healthy Success (TSHS) program, a best practices approach to nutrition and physical activity for children ages zero to five that covers the topics of nutrition, healthy beverages, physical activity, screen time, breast feeding, family engagement and staff wellness. Jump IN and Early Learning Indiana offer TSHS free to child care providers and all participating programs will receive a cash incentive upon completing the requirements. Thanks to Anthem, Jump IN and Early Learning Indiana are now enrolling 25 new child care providers to begin the full session and 25 providers who've already had the training for ongoing technical assistance to ensure that the best practices are being thoroughly followed and are embedded into the policies and day-to-day of the centers. More than 170 child care providers in central Indiana have already participated in the program, impacting more than 10,000 children.
Did you know? Jump IN for Healthy Kids is fortunate and honored to be one of the 50 organizations competing for the $250,000 Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge. The Challenge is a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties. The partnership empowers small to mid-size U.S. cities and counties to create a positive health impact. 50 communities were selected by competitive process to be part of the Challenge, and Jump IN's community demonstration project in Greater Lawrence and the Far Eastside (GLFE) was selected as one of the 50. Jump IN's work and the work of our partners is broad and deep, and we've listed nearly everything below that we're up to in GLFE, so it's a bit of a long read, but we really wanted to tell you about our work. It's a lot, and there are wonderful partners and grassroots efforts that are helping improve the health of residents every day. If we are fortunate enough to win the Challenge, the prize money will go directly into the GLFE community to continue and expand our work.
When Vida Benjamin came to Promiseland Child Care center on the far eastside of Indianapolis, she’d been recently laid off and was interested in volunteering and being with the children, never expecting she’d stumble on a new passion. Clearly gifted with the children, one day she was asked if she might be interested in joining Promiseland on staff, and today she’s been its director for over four years. Promiseland is a Paths to QUALITY level 3 licensed, registered, child care ministry, housed in Calvary Temple "The Caring Place” church. Promiseland serves 65 children, ages 6 weeks through 5 years, and has a special program for older children during school breaks.