Agriculture Commissioner Announces Smart Nutrition Grant Program for Child Care Providers

Deadline Approaching to Apply for Early Childhood Nutrition Grants

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Peter Clark, 512.417.9262

AUSTIN – Although Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has faced criticism for his actions on cupcakes and deep fat fryers in schools, today Texans Care for Children praised the Commissioner for a childhood nutrition initiative and urged child care providers and community groups to apply before the April 14th deadline. These providers and organizations can now apply to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) "Establishing the 3E’s Nutrition Grant Program” to receive funding to improve nutrition among three to five year-olds through education, exercise, and health eating. Grant funds can be used to support a variety of innovative programs, like garden-based learning and activities to increase physical fitness.

"While some TDA announcements on children's nutrition have raised eyebrows, today we want to give the agency a big thumbs up for supporting child care providers who want to partner with parents to keep kids healthy,” said Stephanie Rubin, CEO of Texans Care for Children, a nonprofit organization that works on a number of state policies affecting kids. "There is growing recognition that child care policies and other efforts that address the first few months and years of life are key to addressing childhood obesity. We encourage child care providers and community organizations to apply for the grants and seize this opportunity to improve early childhood nutrition and well-being.” 

Research shows that children develop nutritional preferences and physical activity habits early in childhood, long before they enter the K-12 school system. Health experts, including the Institute of Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics, have consistently recognized the vital role child care providers play in implementing activities to promote healthy eating and physical fitness. 

According to TDA, the grant program "incentivizes the creation of new nutrition education programs in any childcare institution or community organization….This program allows not only children, but their parents, to learn that proper nutrition education at an early age is pertinent to developing healthy eating and exercising habits.” The program will provide grants of up to $7,500 per location. Additional information on the grant is available online at texasagriculture.gov/GrantsServices, by phone at 512-475-0089, or by email at linda.simmons@TexasAgriculture.gov.

Texas also has an opportunity to improve nutrition and physical activity in child care as the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) reviews and revises the state’s child care licensing minimum standards. DFPS will finalize new minimum standards over the next year, a process it undertakes every six years. The new minimum standards are an opportunity to ensure that child care providers, in close partnership with families, ensure young children receive healthy foods and develop healthy eating and exercise habits at a young age.

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