For nearly 40 years, Quality Care for Children has worked to ensure Georgia’s infants and young children reach their full potential by helping parents access excellent childcare services and assisting childcare programs with providing nutritious meals and quality education. In Georgia, one in four children does not have access to adequate nutrition, making the state fourth in the nation for food insecurity. Quality Care for Children’s mission is vital to child wellness in Georgia. Food insecurity is harmful to all ages; however, it can be particularly devastating to young children because nearly all brain development occurs by the time a child reaches age five.
Quality Care for Children’s current approach to ensuring adequate nutrition for young children includes four programs: the USDA Child and Adult Food Care Food Program, the Summer Food Program, the Nutrition Training for Child Care Cooks and the Farm to Early Care and Education Initiative. These programs provide fundamental aid for families experiencing food insecurity.
Quality Care for Children administers the USDA Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP). The CACFP helps childcare programs that demonstrate a commitment to good nutrition through reimbursement for high-quality meals and snacks. Additionally, Quality Care for Children plays a critical role by assisting programs with enrollment, management and administrative responsibilities that exceed program capacity.
Quality Care for Children is also a sponsor for the USDA Summer Food Program, which provides meals to students over the summer who quality for free or reduced-price school meals during the school year. This addresses meal gaps that occur during the summer months when children are not in school in order to help maintain adequate nutrition year-round. For the past few years, Quality Care for Children has partnered with Open Hand to provide high-quality meals and snacks that exceed federal nutrition standards. At 14 sites, the Summer Food Program has served 32,964 nutritious summer meals to children.
“Most of the children who attend our summer camp receive free or reduced lunch during the school year, and we know there is a real need for them to continue to have healthy food during the summer,” said Patrice Barlow, S.E.E. Academy teacher and USDA Summer Food Program participant. “It’s important to us to focus on the whole child so we make health and wellness a daily topic, but we knew that we could not stress to them the benefits of healthy eating if we turned around and served them processed chicken patties for lunch. Without Quality Care for Children, we would not be able to provide such a quality food service without encumbering the cost.”
Additionally, the Chefs for Young Children program works directly with small groups of food providers at childcare programs to create healthy, budget-conscious menu plans with reductions in salt and fat content. The food providers also learn ways to encourage healthier eating at home through the nutrition-based training.
As part of a collaborative effort, Quality Care for Children has partnered with Georgia Organics, The Common Market, Little Ones Learning Center, and Voices for Georgia’s Children to help connect early care and education providers to locally grown, healthy foods. Additionally, the initiative aims to increase nutritional awareness among young children, promote the development of local gardens at early care and education programs and engage families around issues related to child nutrition.
To learn more about Quality Care for Children, visit http://www.qualitycareforchildren.org/