Community Partner Spotlight: 4Cs Sonoma County, Old Elm & Petaluma Child Development Centers
This year Petaluma Bounty has partnered in new and innovative ways with local schools and centers that work with our community’s low-income population. One new partnership in 2016 has been with 4Cs (Community Child Care Council) Sonoma County, working with Petaluma-based Old Elm and Petaluma Child Development Centers. These two preschools offer child care to families who are income eligible, and work with the whole family to support the child’s healthy development. The Centers are committed to developmentally appropriate environments, low staff to child ratios, and have a focus on child health and nutrition. Petaluma Bounty saw these 4Cs Centers as promising new partners with a lot of potential because of their proximity (one is within 3 minutes walking distance), the families they serve, and their commitment to health and nutrition education for their children.
Petaluma Bounty approached the centers this spring to do outreach with the families about our programs in education, nutrition, food access and incentives. We were invited to parent’s meetings, where we were able to have engaged conversations with parents about both our programs and their needs when it came to food, nutrition, and community building opportunities. At the first meetings, we received a very enthusiastic response from Child Center staff and parents alike, who wanted to participate in our programs. Our first ALIVE (Active Living in Vibrant Environments) program back in June was made up of 75% families also enrolled in 4Cs.
From those beginnings, we now engage with the Child Development Centers in holistic partnerships that go beyond one time encounters, to models of sustained engagement that reach children and their families in various ways and contexts. Changing behaviors and attitudes takes commitment and time, and we are thrilled to be working with 4Cs children on an ongoing basis throughout the school year and in various contexts of the home, school, and community.
The partnership between the Child Development Centers and Petaluma Bounty has expanded to include the following elements:
- Engagement and recruitment with families at Center’s parent meetings to inform them about our Food Access (LIFE, Sliding Scale Farmstand, Farmacy, Bounty CSA Bags), Education (ALIVE, workshops), and Engagement (volunteering opportunities, youth employment) Programs.
- Offer spaces to 4Cs families to attend 6 week farm-based nutrition education program, ALIVE. 75% of first session of ALIVE was 4Cs families, 25% second session, & 50% third session. ALIVE is a free program offered bilingually that provides education and a weekly bag of Bounty produce to families with limited resources.
- 50% of 4Cs families that have graduated from ALIVE have chosen to continue receiving discounted Bounty CSA Bags after the program. These bags are offered 50% off for those with EBT/Food Stamps, and 30% off for those who identify as limited income.
- Old Elm & Petaluma Child Development Centers come on regular field trips to Bounty Farm with the toddlers and preschoolers to engage in age appropriate educational activities related to growing food, sustainable agriculture, and nutrition. So far in 2016, Old Elm has visited Bounty farm 3 times.
- Bounty CSA Bags are delivered weekly to the two Development Centers and offered at the 30% discounted price. The food from the bags is cooked and fed to the children at lunch every week.
4Cs children now have the opportunity to expand their learning around healthy foods, nutrition, and growing food with consistent programming that follows them from the classroom to mealtime to home to their community farm. The children not only talk about themes related to food and plants in the classroom, but experientially explore them on the farm, eat the produce at school, learn together with their family at the farm, take the conversation back home, eat the produce with their families, and practice what they have learned at their home and school gardens. We have been so fortunate to partner with such incredible child and family advocates at the Centers, and with such enthusiastic and knowledgeable families, all of whom are committed to the healthy development and learning of their children. We very much hope to continue expanding this model of engagement with other schools and centers in the future!
Now we want you to hear from the Site Supervisors at Old Elm & Petaluma Child Development Centers:
Site Supervisor at Petaluma Child Development Center
Bounty CSA Bag Program
“This partnership has helped to supply food to supplement the curriculum, and make it experiential, and show kids that not all food comes from the store. Every week we show the children what’s in the Bounty Food Bag and take it out so they can experience it with their senses- they touch, smell, and taste it. This helps them to get a connection to the earth where it grows. We then ask the children questions after taste testing the food. We ask if their parents use these fruits and vegetables at the house. Then we give it to the kitchen to use and make delicious salads. Many kids comment that the salads are ‘really good.’ We focus on the nutritional benefit of foods.”
Field Trips to Bounty Farm
“This program has helped bring meaning to the topics we discuss in the classroom. For the kids to make that connection is everything, otherwise it is just words. The field trips help the kids to make the connection to the food they eat at lunch and take our conversations from the classroom to the farm itself. It is so important for their development to become familiar and comfortable with playing with the soil. The kids then make that connection and I can refer back during our conversations in the classroom to our experience at the farm. We also bring back what we learn to our own garden at the school.”
Connections back to Home
“One great thing about this experience for the kids is that they share what they have tried in the classroom with their families. I am committed to the families of our children and this program helps make that connection in the community for resources beyond our doors. This partnership helps to solve the disconnection between parents, child centers, and community.”
Old Elm Child Development Center
Partnership with Petaluma Bounty
“This program helps children make all of the necessary connections. It is always so important and helpful for children to see the full circle, to hear about things in the classroom, see it at the farm, and return to the classroom to eat the food grown there, and then go back to their families to share the whole experience with them. And all of these steps are provided locally!”
Bounty CSA Bags
“We were looking to provide local produce to our lunch program, but weren’t sure where we could acquire it at an affordable price with our small budget. The partnership with Petaluma Bounty works well to supplement the Harvest of the Month and SnapEd programs, where we can actually offer our children a lunch made of locally grown ingredients.”
“This partnership has helped our center’s teachers and families who have participated in the ALIVE program. Families have told me they love the bags of food to make fresh food for their families. The parents have really appreciated the support.”
Field Trips to Bounty Farm
“I heard so many great things about the field trip to Bounty Farm from the teachers and kids. The activities were very engaging for the kids and age appropriate and it was so important for them to see where their food comes from. Now when the teachers talk to the children about the lunch food, the children have an image of where the food comes from and how it is grown.”