The Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado family application portal is open! Get more info here.

1

Quality Nutrition in Early Childhood

#FFFFFF

Healthy, nutrient-dense foods provide a variety of nutrients children need to grow and do the activities they enjoy. These foods also help children maintain a healthy weight and prevent some diseases.

Young childrens’ brains are developing rapidly. So, they need foods rich in vitamins and minerals, and with healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates, to help them learn about the world around them. Without the right nutrients, infants, toddlers and preschoolers may not develop to their full potential. For example, children may have difficulty concentrating if they don't have enough of the mineral iron, making it challenging for them to learn through exploring and interacting with the world around them.

The benefits of healthy, nutritious eating can carry throughout a lifetime. Young children who establish healthy eating patterns early are more likely to continue those practices as they get older.

Participation in early childhood nutrition programs, like the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), can lead to increased consumption of quality nutrients for young children during this critical time of brain development. Nutrition greatly impacts the developing brain, including how genes express themselves and the growth of synapses: “food insecurity and malnutrition have been linked to nutrient deficiencies leading to learning and developmental deficits amongst the most vulnerable, infants and toddlers.”  The impact of a lack of access to quality nutrition in early childhood can have longer term effects too, influencing school performance in k-12. It was this research that prompted the development of the Quality Nutrition workgroup.  
 

School/Child Nutrition Programs

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides reimbursement for healthy meals and snacks served to Colorado’s children and adults in child care centers and homes, afterschool programs, emergency and homeless shelters, Head Start, Early Head Start and outside-school-hours programs and adult day care centers. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the 

How to Apply

Child Care Centers

Family Child Care Homes/Qualified Exempt FFN Providers

School Food Authorities (SFAs)

For questions, contact the CACFP office
Recordkeeping

Templates

Legal Rules and Regulations

 

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)/School Breakfast Program (SBP)

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritious, low-cost or free lunches to students each day. Specific meal patterns and nutrition standards are required in the NSLP. The School Breakfast Program (SBP) is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritious, low-cost or free breakfasts to students each day. Specific meal patterns and nutrition standards are required in the SBP. The SBP meets a vital need of feeding thousands of students each day, who might otherwise not eat a nutritious breakfast. Participation in the program has been shown to improve learning and test performance. Schools that participate in the SBP receive funding assistance similar to the National School Lunch Program.

Summer Food Service Program

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free breakfast, lunch, snack and supper to youth in Colorado all summer long. Anyone 18 years of age and younger is welcome to eat a meal with their friends at participating sites throughout the summer.
Apply here!

Quality Nutrition Workgroup

The goal of the Quality Nutrition workgroup is to expand access to quality nutrition for underserved or vulnerable children in the early childhood care and education system (Colorado Shines Brighter Strategy 2.2.1). Take a look at some of the resources this workgroup has collectively produced over the years:

Ways to Get Connected

Join the Quality Nutrition Workgroup!
The goal of the Quality Nutrition workgroup is to expand access to quality nutrition for underserved or vulnerable children in the early childhood care and education system (Colorado Shines Brighter Strategy 2.2.1).  The group includes representatives from: 

  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment - CDPHE
    • Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
    • Healthy Eating and Active Living Unit (HEAL)
  • Colorado Department of Early Childhood - CDEC
    • State Systems Building Initiatives Unit (SSBI)
    • Partnerships and Collaboration Team (PACT)
    • Division of Early Learning Licensing and Administration (DELLA)
    • Division of Early Learning Access and Quality (DELAQ) Colorado Child Care Assistance Program Team (CCCAP)
    • Division of Early Childhood Workforce (DECW) Registry and Career Pathways Unit - Recruitment and Retention Team
  • Colorado Department of Education - CDE
    • School Nutrition Unit and P-3 Office - CDE
  • Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center
  • San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES)
  • Grand Beginnings Early Childhood Council (ECC)
  • Donnell Kay Foundation
  • Blueprint to End Hunger
  • Healthy Foods for Denver’s Kids
  • Nourish Colorado
  • And other quality nutrition advocates!

Currently we meet every other Tuesday from 12pm-1pm
Contact Meghan Leclerc (meghan.leclerc@state.co.us) to get involved!
 

Farm to Child Collaborative
The Colorado Farm to Child Collaborative envisions a state where fresh produce and other nutritious foods from local farms are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems. The Collaborative brings together stakeholders from across the state to share their voices and experiences to increase participation, advise on resource creation,  provide guidance on funding opportunities and shape future work.  Farm to Child enriches the connection communities have with fresh, nutritious food by changing food purchasing and education practices in early care and education settings.The three core elements of Farm to Child are local food purchasing, gardening, and food and agriculture education. Find resources on the Farm to Child Website.
 

At the Table Forum
 

Advisory Council for School Nutrition (ASCN) - for FSAs
 

Sign up for Newsletters!