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Getting Started
Farm to Child CareThe objective of farm to child care activities is to connect children in early child care settings — preschools, Head Start, center-based programs, programs in K-12 schools and family child care programs — to local food and agriculture, by serving local products in meals and snacks, garden-based learning and agriculture and nutrition education and activities. 

Birth- to 4- years is a great time to start exposing children to new foods. This is a time many children are more apt to try new foods, especially if a peer or a teacher is modeling the behavior of eating the item. Farm to child care activities offer a great way to introduce children to foods available from Texas farmers and ranchers and ensuring that incorporating new ingredients into a child’s diet is not a chore.

5 tips to consider when starting a farm to child care program  Minimize 
  1. Evaluate where you currently are and set realistic expectations

  2. Form a strong team of collaborators
    • Different people have different strengths.
    • Make sure to include the educators and staff outside of your direct team if you want to have the greatest success and buy-in.

  3. Establish attainable goals to get started
    • Example goals include:
      • Identify a snack or meal item that can transition to a local item
      • Find a farmers market, producer or distributor that can connect you to local foods
      • Identify if any resources already developed for farm to school are relevant to your farm to child care programs
      • Plan an activity focused around local products
      • Plan a field trip to a farm, farmers market or have a farmer visit the classroom

  4. Collaborate with your community
    • If you are running into a barrier you are likely not the first one to encounter it. Communicate with other child care centers in your area to find out what they’re doing to bring farm to child care to their students.

  5. Promote farm to child care to parents and your community
    • Make sure to include your new initiatives in newsletters and other communications
    • Recruit volunteers through these communication channels

While farm to school resources may be helpful to farm to child care settings, there are many distinctions between schools and child care centers:
  1. Local food procurement: child care settings tend to have lower food volume needs. Farmers and ranchers with smaller production capacity may be able to accommodate the needs of a preschool or family care site when they cannot accommodate an entire school district. 
  2. Class size: child care settings tend to have smaller class sizes; allowing greater flexibility in the types of curriculum an educator can offer.
  3. More flexible curriculum: Experiential education is the preferred learning model for child care centers. Garden-based learning and field trips to farms and farmers markets are great learning opportunities for children to connect with local food.
  4. Parent participation: Parent and family involvement can be a huge asset for farm to child care programming. Include upcoming farm to child care opportunities in your communication to see if parents would like to participate. 

Resources  Minimize 
Many great farm to child care resources already exist and can help you get started. Visit our Map of Farm Fresh Activities to see if centers located near you are already implementing farm to child care activities.

USDA Farm to Preschool Fact Sheet

This USDA-developed fact sheet provides an overview of farm to child care and how it can be incorporated at a facility operating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

National Farm to School Network Farm to Preschool Fact Sheet

This fact sheet offers steps for incorporating farm to child care and outlines the differences between school districts and early child care settings.

Growing Head Start Success with Farm to Child Care

Aligning the Head Start Program Performance Standards and the Early Learning Outcomes Framework with Farm to Child Care is a win-win for Head Start Programs and their participants. This resource aims to highlight how different elements of Farm to Child Care, implemented individually or in combination, address many of the Head Start standards and provide significant benefits for children, families and communities.



In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, 
color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.  
 
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
 
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:  
mail: 
U.S. Department of Agriculture 
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 
1400 Independence Avenue, SW 
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; 
(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or 
(3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.
 
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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