The Manitoba government will invest $375,000 to promote healthy eating for young children by encouraging positive eating environments in child-care settings. This announcement was made by Healthy Living and Seniors Minister Deanne Crothers and Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross.
“It is well-known that what we learn as a child greatly influences our habits later in life,” said Minister Crothers. “By investing in this new Child Care Nutrition Strategy, our government is making an investment in Manitoba children’s health and quality of life for years to come.”
Minister Crothers noted the strategy was developed through a consultative process including Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care branch of Manitoba Family Services as well as representatives from the Manitoba Child Care Association and Dietitians of Canada, a national professional association for dietitians.
“Our government is committed to providing high-quality child care to Manitoba families, and ensuring that children eat healthy meals and snacks is part of our goal,” said Minister Irvin-Ross. “We are excited to now have a strategy that will support early childhood educators and parents in working together to create positive eating practices for children.”
Over the next three years, the Child Care Nutrition Strategy goals are to:
- increase children’s access to healthy, fresh, wholesome and safe food every day;
- provide a positive eating environment for children on a daily basis; and
- help educate children, early childhood educators, parents and other stakeholders about early childhood nutrition and recommended feeding practices.
The handbook provides ideas for healthy, child-friendly meals and snacks. This information can be shared with parents to help make informed, healthy meal choices, Minister Crothers said, adding healthy meal options will include a variety of fresh, wholesome foods including at least three of the four food groups with a strong focus on vegetables and fruit, water and milk.
Dietitians of Canada will be a lead partner in the implementation of the strategy over the next three years by providing practical support and education to early childhood educators to help children make healthy food choices.
“Our ability to work hands-on with child-care facilities and families is a strength of this strategy,” said Jennifer Wojcik, regional executive director for Manitoba, Dietitians of Canada. “As the experts in food and nutrition, dietitians will provide support and practical solutions to help adapt and implement the strategy to meet the individual needs of each facility.”
Along with the launch of the strategy, the province released the Manitoba Nutrition Handbook for Early Learning and Child Care, a resource designed to provide practical advice to early childhood educators on how to work with families to create healthy eating practices at their facility. All licensed child-care centres and homes in the province will be provided with the handbook and can also access it online.
“Early learning and child-care educators know there is a close connection between good nutrition, physical growth, and overall health and well-being throughout life,” said Pat Wege, executive director, Manitoba Child Care Association. “This strategy and the handbook will help families and educators work in partnership to teach nutritious eating habits and ensure children know how to choose healthy foods and develop good eating habits right from the start.”
For more information about the Child Care Nutrition Strategy, or to view the Manitoba Nutrition Handbook for Early Learning and Child Care, visit manitoba.ca.