a little background....

I thought you might want to read this wonderful letter to the editor of the Burlington Free Press composed by Sarah Adams-Kollitz (director of BCS and our fearless leader ) that explains a bit about what we're doing with our food program, and why it's so important. Enjoy!

November 8, 2009
United Way: Bringing partners to the table
By Sarah Adams-Kollitz
We are lucky to live in a community where access to abundant local foods is celebrated. Yet many families still struggle to keep their children well-nourished. One in 10 Vermont families with an infant reports food insecurity. United Way and a team of local partners recently piloted a program to increase participation in the federally funded Child and Adult Food Care program. The program allows child care providers to receive reimbursement for meals and snacks they serve and offers families the assurance that their children are well-fed while away from home.
The idea behind the pilot was not to reinvent the wheel, but to think creatively about how to breathe new life into an under-used federal program. By working with Child Care Resource as a sponsoring agency, child care centers were able to avoid the onerous application and receive support in meeting program requirements. True to the community's commitment to locally produced food, the pilot included weekly deliveries of farm-fresh produce, excellent gardening and food curriculum training, and the chance to work person-to-person.
As a member of the pilot, The Burlington Children's Space has been able to receive funding for our growing food program. Along the way we have learned that young children will try new foods when they are introduced by trusted adults over time. Preschoolers, who thought kale was gross, learn to like it if they can try it raw, sauteed with garlic, or baked into kale "chips." Children who resisted carrot soup are excited to pass out samples they made with the last harvest from their garden. Parents who once struggled to pack nutritious lunches with limited resources can now receive free meals and are invited to join in when visiting at meal times.
For our program, food is one of the languages with which children are welcomed to school in the morning and sent home satisfied at the end of the day. It has helped us create an atmosphere of abundance, respect and generosity.
In this case the metaphor of bringing people to the table to meet a critical need in our community has become a daily reality. Thanks to the Child Care Food Network Pilot Program, more children and their families are finding pleasure and nourishment at that table. Thanks to the United Way Community Campaign, any community member can play a role in creating a community worth passing on to our children.

Sarah Adams-Kollitz of Burlington is the director of The Burlington Children's Space, a United Way member agency.

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