Healthy food campaigns benefit preschoolers and farmers in New Mexico

By Sayrah Namaste, New Mexico Program Co-Director

“Our children went right for it and touched it. It went right into their mouth,” a preschool teacher reported to AFSC New Mexico staff about the impact of our farm to preschool healthy food campaign.

This fall we introduced another new vegetable, cucumbers, to about 1,000 preschoolers. We also partnered with two new small scale organic farms to grow food for the children. New research in early childhood education (ECE) has found that “the most consistent evidence observed is that inclusion of nutrition education components were consistently effective at improving fruit and vegetable intake."

This really affirms the strategy we have been employing at AFSC New Mexico. Our initial work--just connecting ECEs to local farmers for purchasing--wasn’t effective because the children often rejected the produce. Our healthy food campaigns have been more successful than we imagined!

The ECEs have given us great feedback that they love the campaigns and want us to expand. Here are a few examples of what teachers and cooks are telling us this month when we told them we are expanding the work with them:

“The healthy food campaign is an amazing opportunity for children to try foods that they may have never had the opportunity to try. It gives us the opportunity to have open discussions with the children.”

“This is a great way to introduce fresh vegetables to the children and families."

“This a great partnership. Great quality vegetables for the children to try.”

Recently the statewide magazine Green Fire Times published my article about AFSC's farm to preschool work. I concluded it by observing that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the local-to-global problems we face. Programs like our Farm to ECE can give us hope.