California libraries are ideal venues for providing opportunities for children and their caregivers to learn about healthy eating and active living.
LUNCH AT THE LIBRARY: A GUIDE FOR LINKING EARLY LEARNING AND NUTRITION FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Library early childhood programs are rich with opportunities for nurturing young children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth. For some libraries, operating a summer meal program, or taking library programming out to a community meal site has proven to be an ideal way to promote healthy eating by connecting the experience of food and eating with a rich learning experience.
Through the support of the California Department of Social Services and the Public Health Institute’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition, in conjunction with Lunch at the Library, a project started by the California Library Association and the California Summer Meal Coalition, LUNCH AT THE LIBRARY: LINKING EARLY LEARNING AND NUTRITION FOR YOUNG CHILDREN can serve as a resource for both libraries serving as summer meal sites, or for any library interested in forging connections between its early childhood programs and nutrition and wellness education.
The guide is available for download:
A LUNCH AT THE LIBRARY GUIDE TO LINKING EARLY LEARNING AND NUTRITION FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
LIBRARIES NURTURING LIFELONG HEALTHY HABITS
Children’s curiosity makes the early years an ideal time to encourage them to try new foods and jumpstart lifelong healthy habits. The U.S. Department works with state and local partners to promote nutrition and physical activity among young children and their families. Libraries should reach out to their local health department to find out what resources are available and if there are partnership opportunities to jointly promote early learning skills and health. Many cookbooks, activity books and other resources are available in hard copy for distribution or available for download. Libraries that offer USDA summer meals or afterschool meals may order resources directly from USDA, free of charge. Below are some additional resources to support nutrition, physical activity and learning:
Early Learning & Nutrition Activity Cards and Building Healthy Habits Tip Sheet (English/Spanish)
These bilingual English/Spanish early learning and nutrition activity cards, and health habits tip sheet are print-ready:
The Building Healthy Habits tip sheet
Animal Mimicry activity card
Birthday activity card
Let’s Play Restaurant activity card
Mystery Food activity card
Plant Viewer activity card
Pollinators activity card
Sensory Garden activity card
Shape Hop activity card
Veggie Sort activity card
Fitness and Nutrition-Oriented Stencils
Many California health departments have nutrition-oriented stencils to loan to libraries. This is a great way to add (chalk) color to your library courtyard or municipal administration complex, or to help kids hop, jump and skip to your library. Contact your local health department SNAP-Ed contact to learn more. Get inspired by Painting Preschool Playgrounds for Movement Stencil Guidebook.
California Department of Public Health’s Physical Activity Toolkit for Preschool-Age Children
The Physical Activity Toolkit offers strategies and skill cards that promote kindergarten readiness skills with physical activity.
Center for Ecoliteracy, https://www.ecoliteracy.org
Center for Ecoliteracy’s Nourishing Students: Enrichment Activities for Grades K-5 Guide. A learning and enrichment resource that engages students in exploring California-grown fruits and vegetables. Download the guide:
CEL Nourishing Students Enrichment Activities Guide
Readers to Eaters book publisher
Reader to Eaters books explore what we eat and how we eat while celebrating a multitude of food cultures.