By: Gabrielle Jackson, Dietetic Intern, Georgia State University
The first week of October commemorates an exciting time for early care settings across Georgia- Georgia Pre-K Week!
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Georgia Pre-K Program. The Program began as a pilot by former Governor Zell Miller in 1992 to lay a solid foundation for academic excellence and future success of our state’s four-year old population.
Georgia for Voice’s Children coordinates annual Georgia Pre K Week events to highlight quality programs by providing an opportunity for local leaders and policymakers to witness the first-class learning experience that takes place in classrooms. With the help of the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative, childcare centers also showcased farm to early care and education (Farm to ECE) activities.
Georgia Organics took part in this annual celebration with the amazing staff and students at Little Ones Learning Center in Forest Park and Ms. Niecy’s Home Away from Home in Hapeville!
Little Ones was in for a treat with special guest Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Georgia Organics dietetic interns. Commissioner Black toured the Center and read to both Georgia Pre-K classes. Dietetic interns led a Super Power Pesto taste test for Commissioner Black and the students (which resulted in a unanimous “thumbs up” vote of approval!). The Commissioner also toured the Jazmin Greene Garden which provides organically grown vegetables for school meals and the community at the biweekly “Little Lion’s Market” .The Center uses the garden to teach children about healthy eating and how to grow their own food.
Ms. Niecy’s received a special visit from Georgia House of Representatives District 60 legislator Kim Schofield. Representative Schofield read a children’s book about gardening to the Pre-k class and then led a taste test the Super Power Pesto, assisted by Georgia Organics, Voices for Georgia’s Children, and Quality Care for Children. Representative Schofield instructed students go to place stickers on a board if they tried the pesto and if they liked the pesto.
The Farm to Early Care and Education Collaborative was created in 2017 with support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Georgia Organics, Little Ones Learning Center, Quality Care for Children, The Common Market, and Voices for Georgia’s Children, which formed a multi-year initiative to create proof of concept Farm to ECE models featuring hands-on education in nutrition, cooking, gardening and promotion of local foods at early care centers to improve the quality of child care programs and increase access to healthy food. To learn more about Farm to ECE, visit www.georgiaorganics.org/for-schools/farmtoearlycare