Four Georgia Nonprofits Receive $1.45M to Help Georgia’s Youngest Children Eat Farm-Fresh Food

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Through a new national investment, four partner organizations are launching an effort to promote access to local, healthy foods for young children in Georgia’s early learning environments.  The statewide public-private partnership will be led by The Common Market Georgia, Georgia Organics, Voices for Georgia’s Children and Quality Care for Children.

This Farm to Early Care and Education initiative will offer hands-on education in nutrition, cooking, gardening and promotion of local, fresh foods in early care and education programs.  Together, the partners will expand healthy food access for Georgia's most vulnerable children by encouraging family engagement, helping children learn where their food comes from, and expanding opportunities for local farmers to sell fresh foods to early care and education programs.
The project is funded by grants totaling $1.45 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and builds upon Georgia’s successful farm to school movement, which joins stakeholders in early care, local farming and nutrition.
This is an extraordinary opportunity to build a powerful partnership with truly statewide impact in Georgia,” said Emily Pelton, Executive Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children, a nonprofit child policy and advocacy organization. “We are delighted that the Kellogg Foundation chose to make such a significant investment of more than a million dollars in Georgia. Our partnership in this initiative will unite efforts to provide local, nutritious food with concrete steps to help children be healthy and successful in school and in life.”
Georgia joins four other states currently funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to implement FTECE programs: North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In 2014, Georgia hosted the nation’s first Farm to Preschool Summit, and this new grant funding will build on that momentum.
“Educating our state’s youngest children to make healthy eating choices and ensuring they have access to nutritious foods is a tall order. Thanks to over ten years of dedicated farm to school work with K-12, we now have a clear road map and great partners to accomplish the work ahead,” said Alice Rolls, Executive Director of Georgia Organics.
This initiative will work in close partnership with the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition, which was formed in 2016 and recently finalized a three-year Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education strategy.
“In Georgia, we view the budding farm to early care movement as an opportunity to support sustainable, local farmers while improving the health and well-being of children, including those in marginalized and low-income communities,” said Lily Rolader, Operations Manager at The Common Market Georgia, a nonprofit regional food distributor.
Although the rate of childhood obesity in Georgia has declined some in recent years, children from low-income families and children of color are disproportionately affected.
“Good nutrition and healthy eating habits are critical for the growth and development of young children, especially during their early years when the most rapid brain development is happening,” said Pam Tatum, President and CEO Quality Care for Children, a nonprofit that works to improve the quality of child care in Georgia and ensure parents can access high-quality care.