Local News

Program puts local produce on the menu at child care centers

Posted August 29, 2014 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated August 29, 2014 6:41 p.m. EDT

— When it’s snack time at the Cathy Lee Child Development Center in Knightdale, the watermelon is sliced and ready to serve.

Not long ago, snack time might have meant something out of a jar. But center director Debbie Lee says this summer is different. The children are enjoying a steady supply of fresh, local produce thanks to a new program.

Wake County SmartStart and Advocates for Health in Action are connecting day care centers with farmers who can provide nutritious food from local fields.

The John Rex Endowment is providing a $675,000 grant to pay for the program, which will supply produce to 160 Wake County child care centers over the next three years.

Project coordinator Michele McKinley said child care centers have a huge opportunity to impact children's health in a positive way, especially with low-income children.

“We see from the research that children who are obese turn into adolescents who are obese and adults who are obese. It doesn't really go the other way,” she said.

The smiles on the kids’ faces at the Knightdale center show the success of the program.

“They would get really excited about it, and it was like a buzz that went through the whole center all summer,” Lee said about the children.