Last week was the annual Child Care Food Program Roundtable conference and after some reflecting there are some thoughts and experiences I’d like to share. Conferences, while tiring, are inspiring and reinvigorating being around genuine and motivated people. People that want to take an already existing food program and do their part in making it better. People that care so much about children and nutrition they took time out of their lives – away from their families - to learn how to do that.
He Gets It!
The Undersecretary Mr. Kevin Concannon humbled the audience as he showed us that he really “does get food program.” Something I heard echoed throughout the conference after his speech. I think he won everyone over, not just with the bright green shirt he wore that said “got supper,” or his story about the mistake in verbiage he made in a speech at the Healthier Children Alliance event or even his sincere concern over the decline in family child care providers participating in the program (he really values you guys!). No, I think the moment was when he was describing the decline in family child care homes and that he believes it was because of tiering which as he points out is “spelled t-i-e-r-i-n-g but should be spelled t-e-a-r-i-n-g.” Know that he is passionate about what we do in the CACFP Community.
There are two serious national conversations taking place – childhood obesity and the growing number of food insecure children. The CACFP Community is at the crux of these two issues. The program serves as an elemental solution to these national issues. YOU, CACFPers, are positively impacting children’s development through nutrition education for caregivers as well as for the little ones. We were also reminded that we have unique access to thousands of caregivers and children and that we can keep the child’s wellbeing as a whole in mind as we support, educate, and administer this valuable food program.
Dr. Jeanette Betancourt of Sesame Street Workshop really drove home this idea of the big picture as she focused on the child’s wellbeing as a whole child. As we focus on nutrition, we can’t forget the significance of other factors in a child’s life – food insecurity, divorce, parental incarceration, military families and so many other elements of a child’s growth and behavior. Behavioral change means the whole package, not just one part.
Feel Overlooked? You Shouldn’t.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a program that often seems overlooked, which seems kind of silly since over half the children in the United States are in child care (Child Care Aware of America, 2012). If the CACFP Community often feels overlooked, it shouldn’t after last week in Palm Springs. Here are some reasons why…
To open the conference, we got to hear national representatives from the Congressional Hunger Center, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and National CACFP Forum talk about
1. the future of the food program with a description of how meal pattern proposed rule is going to work,
2. explanation of Child Nutrition Reauthorization of 2015 and what that means for the food program
3. advocacy and knocking on our representatives doors to remind them of the impact the CACFP has on children’s health
4. a report being sent to congress with recommendations to address streamlining program’s paperwork with an emphasis on reduction
5. Dr. Jeanette Betancourt shared Sesame Street workshop research and initiatives
6. Undersecretary Mr. Kevin Concannon joined us and shared with us updates from USDA for CACFP as well as his passion for the CACFP
7. Support from the entire CACFP Community
8. We also got to see, first-hand, the beautiful quilts being made by the National CACFP Forum with squares made by children depicting healthy practices. Take a look for yourself (by the way, if you are from Kentucky, make some with the kiddos, they need your state represented!)
CACFP Matters, You Matter. If you didn’t get to go to the conference, know that you were well represented and you have a great support system!