By Katie Hinerman Klug, Catholic Charities West Virginia Marketing Communications Specialist A key part of the mission of Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa) is working to ensure that every child in our state has access to the services that he or she needs to be healthy, happy, and to reach his or her full potential. Our CCWVa Child Care Food Program helps to support the health and growth of children by supporting healthy meal choices in homes of child care providers. Our program provides education and assistance to care givers in meal planning and application for meal reimbursements. “Children in our program gain from early nutrition education that helps them establish positive eating habits that will enrich the quality of their diet throughout their lives,” said Jane Rose, CCWVa Child Care Food Program director. The primary goal of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is to serve nutritious meals to children attending child care homes and centers. Secondary goals are: 1. The establishment of positive eating habits at the earliest stages of development. 2. Reduction of future health care and education costs due to lack of proper early development. 3. Training and support of local child care personnel. Child care providers in the program receive nutrition education and support services that help them serve nutritious meals and create a positive eating environment for children. A child care provider named Rebecca enrolled with CCWVa Child Care Food Program in 2017. Rebecca has a state-issued license to provide care for six children at once, but she has 20 children enrolled in her family child care program. These children are in care during different times of the day and on different days of the week, depending on the parents’ work schedules. Rebecca said that this program has been a blessing to her. It gives her the opportunity to provide a nutritious variety of foods that would be limited if she paid out of pocket to feed the children. Rebecca said that she feels good knowing that the meals being served in her home are “sowing the seeds that might save lives some day” through establishing healthy eating habits. The Child Care Food Program offers a two-tiered reimbursement for meals and snacks provided to children in care. A child care provider may claim reimbursement for two meals and one snack (or two snacks and one meal) per child each day of care. In order to receive this reimbursement, providers must agree to serve healthy meals and snacks to children in care. These meals have requirements that include whole-grain rich items, more vegetables and fruits, lean meats, low-fat dairy options and less sugar. “Research shows child care providers participating in a program like ours offer more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats than providers who do not,” said Rose. “Research also shows that children who receive high quality meals are less likely to be tired and are sick less.” This is especially important in West Virginia, a state that consistently has a high rate of childhood obesity. “Being in the CCWVa Child Care Food Program helps shape a positive attitude about healthy foods that will leave a lasting impression on child care providers and children,” said Rose. The CCWVa Child Care Food Program served 2,997 children in 21 counties of West Virginia last year.

Courtesy Photo The CCWVa Child Care Food Program supports healthy meal choices in homes of child care providers in West Virginia.