Arlene Morgan takes care of children in her Finneytown type B child care home. She joined the WeTHRIVE! Child Care Initiative in 2017 and was awarded the Ohio Healthy Program (OHP) designation in August 2018.
OHP is a statewide yearly recognition program for child care providers who go above and beyond licensing requirements when it comes to the health and wellness of the children they serve. To qualify, Arlene completed 15+ hours of training on healthy eating and physical activity with Andrea Liptak, RD, LD of Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH).
WeTHRIVE! and OHP attracted Arlene because she sees more people trying to eat healthy foods and even growing their own foods. “Healthy eating is so much in society today,” she said. “It’s going to be ongoing, and that’s why this program is very helpful.”
Arlene found the OHP training to be valuable. “It allowed me to really grasp the material and incorporate it into my program,” she said. “And personally, I notice that now my diet has changed. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat.”
Arlene has made many changes that will give the children she cares for a healthier start in life. Here’s a look at a few things she’s doing:
Recipe garden. In the spring, Arlene invited families to choose a vegetable to plant. The children started seeds indoors and transplanted them outside in May. Although they had some trouble with typical garden pests (like deer), she says the kids really enjoyed it and plans to try again next year.
New fruits and vegetables. The children tried mango for the first time and Arlene has been experimenting with mashed cauliflower. She says they tend to love all fruits, but vegetables are a bit of a challenge.
Staying active. Arlene uses the CATCH curriculum, which provides lots of ideas and activities to get the kids moving. “I have younger toddlers and infants and I like doing music time,” she said. “They love the songs, being active, and moving their bodies.”
On menu changes: Take baby steps. “It might be just one thing you change at first and then before you know it, you become more aware of reading ingredients on labels and seeing what’s healthier,” Arlene said. “It’s better for everyone.”
On food shopping: “Don’t just go for sale items.” When Arlene shops, her mind is on what she learned through OHP training. “When I notice something on sale, I think: ‘Is this whole grain? Does it fit on a healthy menu?’”
Click here for more information on the WeTHRIVE! Child Care Initiative.