Funding for Edible Gardens in Louisiana Child Care Centers
Child care centers play an important role in establishing healthy behaviors in our youngest residents. Children who have proper nutrition and physical activity from birth are better prepared for success when they begin school. One way to do this is to nurture healthy habits by getting kids involved in growing food in an edible garden!
The Let’s Be Healthy grant opportunity provides up to $2,500 to child care center owners to purchase materials to install an edible garden in their center’s outdoor learning environment. This grant opportunity is available to centers located in food deserts—areas with limited access to grocery stores or supermarkets. Grant funding may also be used to purchase small kitchen equipment required to enroll into the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
The Fall 2023 application period has closed.
Making an Impact
The goal of the Let’s Be Healthy grant opportunity is to increase Louisiana child care providers’ access to local, fresh food through farm to early care and education strategies. Farm to early care and education is a set of strategies that offers increased access to healthy, local foods through procurement, gardening opportunities and food and agriculture education. This strategies could include:
- Weekly menus that include local, fresh food
- Staff professional development on gardening, food, nutrition and agriculture education
- Ongoing communication with families about local foods included in meals and snacks
- Gardening opportunities that teach children how to plant, maintain, observe, harvest, wash and taste fresh produce
Facilities will also support their staff in making healthy choices by implementing specific, evidence-based benchmarks found in the Child Care Center WellSpot Designation program.
Last year, Chan’s Scholar Toddlers used the Let’s Be Healthy grant funding to build a vegetable garden! Their director, Chante Buchanan said, “It’s been a good way to get the children excited to eat more vegetables. This has sparked their curiosity and encouraged them to try it even if they don’t think they’ll like it.”
Become a WellSpot
By becoming a WellSpot, you will make a lasting change by implementing policy, systems and environmental strategies that make the healthy choice, the easy choice!
Grant recipients will complete steps to become a Child Care Center WellSpot! WellSpots are places and spaces in Louisiana that voluntarily implement healthy initiatives in their environment to help their employees and community live well. Organizations that meet certain wellness benchmarks are designated as a Level 1, 2 or 3 WellSpot—with Level 1 being the highest. By implementing changes to improve the health of employees and children through WellSpot Designation, child care centers are equipped to model healthy behaviors to guide children in building healthy habits that last for a lifetime.
Let’s Be Healthy participants will receive support to Become a WellSpot, which will include technical assistance to:
- Complete a WellSpot assessment
- Implement a tobacco-free policy
- Complete Go NAPSACC benchmarks
- Implement one additional benchmark of choice
About the Let’s Be Healthy Grant
The Fall 2023 application period has closed.
Grantees will work with a Well-Ahead team member who will provide technical assistance and resources to assist with implementation of WellSpot benchmarks and grant requirements. For any portion of the application, implementation and evaluation, Well-Ahead will provide technical assistance to make a program or intervention a success.
The child care center or family child care home is eligible to apply for the Let’s Be Healthy Grant if it is:
- Licensed to operate through the Louisiana Department of Education’s licensing division.
- Located in a food desert as indicated by the Child and Adult Care Food Program geographic information system map.
- Eligible to participate in Child and Adult Care Food Program, but not currently enrolled.
- Prepared to install a minimum of a 4′ x 4′ edible garden in an outdoor space.
Examples of Allowable Purchases
- Gardening materials (soil, seeds, raised garden beds, mulch, shovels, wheelbarrow, water hose, etc.)
- Outdoor storage to house gardening materials
- Books, teaching and learning materials related to gardening and healthy eating (MyPlate education materials)
- Small kitchen equipment and materials to support Child and Adult Care Food Program participation (food scales, measuring cups, portion-control serving spoons, pots, pans, child size utensils, divider plates, etc.)
Requirements for Grantees
Child care centers will need to complete the following activities to meet grant requirements:
- Participate in the virtual orientation on December 15, 2023.
- Install an edible garden that is at least four feet in length and four feet in width. The garden will be used to feed all enrolled children for at least one meal or snack each season and provide educational opportunities.
- Work with the Let’s Be Healthy Consultant to complete a Go NAPSACC self-assessment, and draft an action plan in the Go NAPSACC Farm to Early Care and Education module.
- Become a WellSpot! This includes taking an initial assessment, implementation of a comprehensive tobacco-free policy, Go NAPSACC benchmarks and one additional benchmark of choice.
- Participate in four, one-hour Farm to Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives.
- Participate in monthly 30-minute to 1-hour virtual meetings with Let’s Be Healthy Consultant.
- Submit before pictures of gardening area in the application and after pictures of the edible garden installed using grant funding by June 30, 2024.
The applicant must not use funds to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law. Funds may not be used for individual prizes or incentives. Funds may not be used for salaries, lobbying or advocacy activities, or office equipment (such as computers, printers, pens etc.).
The timeline below serves as a guide to assist child care providers in staying on task with important due dates and activities for Let’s Be Healthy.
Date Goal Activities November 16, 2023 Application Deadline The application period ends. December 8, 2023 Award Notification Child care centers selected to participate will be notified via email. A grant agreement will be included in the email.
Regional Reps will also get notification of awardees
December 15, 2023 Orientation A virtual orientation via Zoom will be conducted for grant participants to discuss grant requirements and expectations. January-June 2024 Monthly Technical Assistance Directors will participate in monthly technical assistance visits via Zoom with the Early Childhood Manager. February 1, 2024 Action Plan Complete Action plans must be completed with Let’s Be Healthy Consultant. January-February 2024 Learning Collaboratives Providers will participate in two learning collaboratives to deepen their knowledge of farm to ECE, gardening and Child and Adult Care Food Program. March 2024 Budget Planning & Invoicing Providers will meet with the Let’s Be Healthy Consultant to purchase approved items. April-May 2024 Garden Installation Providers will complete the installation of their edible garden with the materials purchased from grant funding. June 30, 2024 Photos Due Providers will submit photos of garden.