Research & Practice

Farm to Early Care and Education in Washington: A Statewide Survey and Report

Dietary habits linked to the incidence of chronic disease are developed early in life. Created to address these habits, Farm to Early Childcare and Education (Farm to ECE) initiatives incorporate local food, agriculture, and nutrition through experiential learning opportunities in early childcare settings, and have been shown to improve children’s dietary habits and cultivate a connection to their food. Benefits extend beyond the individual level, as well: Farm to ECE can support community health, food systems, and local farmers. Washington has made strides with the formation of a state Farm to ECE Alliance, a variety of online resources and curricula, and regional events. This practicum involved data analysis and synthesis of findings from a statewide Farm to ECE survey to understand current engagement, barriers, and opportunities. Descriptive and inferential statistics from the survey results were analyzed in Microsoft Excel and R, and discussions with Farm to ECE leaders and stakeholders were incorporated into report recommendations. The results of this practicum revealed that Farm to ECE is already reaching a variety of regions and ECE program types across the state, although opportunities exist to better connect providers to existing resources, including training, grants for funding, and curricula. Future work should continue to focus on addressing racial and social inequities in Farm to ECE access. The report and recommendations will be leveraged by the Farm to ECE Alliance to define next steps. In addition, the report will be made available to other states so they can leverage the findings to better support Farm to ECE in their communities. An infographic and fact sheet will be distributed publicly through a variety of channels to increase awareness of Farm to ECE in Washington.

Community Partners: Washington State Department of Health, Uncommon Solutions, Inc.

Materials Available

Project Type(s): MPH Practicum

Author(s): Katie McConaughy

Program(s): Master of Public Health, RDN Training

Year: 2023