Ohio Healthy Programs Equips Child Care Providers with Tools to Build Healthy Habits
For decades, Children’s Hunger Alliance has helped child care providers create healthy menus that offer kids a balance of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and milk. For children who live in food-insecure homes, the meals they receive from their child care providers may be the most balanced meal they receive. That’s why we are so grateful for the opportunities to lead training for Ohio Healthy Programs, funded by the Ohio Department of Health.
The Nutrition & Physical Education team recently completed its fifth year of Ohio Healthy Programs, assisting 120 family child care providers to complete the program. The providers serve more than 1,000 children across the state, and are now better equipped to provide children with care that focuses on healthy eating and physical activity.
The program consists of web-based training, in-home technical assistance visits and ongoing consulting to provide child care providers with strategies to create healthy alternatives for the children they serve. The end goal is to help combat obesity and build a foundation of healthy habits.
Overall, during the course of the program the child care providers implemented approximately 300 overall changes to their existing menus, such as limiting processed foods like hot dogs, limiting friend foods, and reducing their serving of drinks that are high in sugar such as fruit juice or flavored milk.
In addition, providers worked with Children’s Hunger Alliance staff to create and adopt 180 new policies that resulted in healthier environments for children, such as limiting screen time, adopting a “Water First for Thirst” policy and increasing and promoting physical activity.
One provider learned how to reduce sugar and salt in her food preparation. She remarked that the nutrition education team informed her she could use spices to season her food instead of salt. She also is paying closer attention to sugar content and removed all sugary beverages from her menus, offering water and white milk instead. Another provider helped her children read nutrition labels and said she would only serve cereal with 6 grams of sugar or less per serving. One of the children in her care went home and helped his mom find cereal at the grocery store that he liked, but with less sugar included.