The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation (the Foundation) seeks to help children form positive food habits for life by providing inspiration, information, professional development and support for educators everywhere, helping them to deliver food education in conjunction with the wider community.
While the program got its start in schools in 2004, it has since branched out into the early years, with a range of opportunities for little hands and curious minds to get in touch with where their food comes from, to grow, try and taste colourful vegetables, fruits and herbs, and to embrace play-based learning, connecting with the earth and engaging with the seasons and all they produce.
“The early years are about creating healthy eating habits – not changing them,” Julie Lemmon, Foundation advisory committee member, and Food Education Leader at Clarendon Children’s Centre explained.
When it came time to tailor a program for the early years, the approach was ‘start small, dream big’, with the team wanting to encourage children to connect with nature, and with themselves.
Developed by a team of experienced facilitators, the program for the early childhood has been driven by feedback and consultation with an advisory committee who “tried and tested” the program, ensuring it was a good fit not only with the outcomes of the National Quality Framework and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), but also with the reality of life “on the ground” of early years settings.
“The Foundation offers educators the building blocks to have conversations with children and families about building a healthy relationship with food. From growing, cooking, serving and sitting together to share in an experience at the table. This encourages even the most cautious of eaters to become curious,” Julie added.
Supporting multiple outcomes
More than just supporting services to meet the outcomes of