Child Food Futures is a website created by a team of researchers in Nova Scotia, Canada, with a vested interest in supporting lifelong healthy eating habits of young children through community engagement. It is hoped that by sharing the learnings from the Nutrition Standards in Child Care Project (NSCCP) the community engagement will stimulate support for healthy food environments and the future health of children.
The NSCCP research findings contributed to the mounting evidence about the complex interrelationships that influence the feeding of young children and lifelong healthy eating habits. With this in mind, the subsequent Sharing Stories project developed a storytelling video intended to help initiate and inspire knowledge sharing discussions within the child care community about supporting healthy food environments. Child Food Futures shares the video and the reports and publications from the NSCCP.
The NSCCP captured new information about the food and nutrition intake of 3 to 5 year olds who spend a considerable amount of time in child care centres in a province with a regulated food and nutrition policy.
We found that foods eaten in the child care centres was of a higher nutrition quality and less processed than those eaten in other settings, the differences were not for the most part statistically different. Further, we found that children were not meeting recommendations for certain nutrients and food groups. We think this is related to broader issues inherent within the Canadian food system (i.e. high sodium levels in commercial breads) and eating patterns of Canadians (i.e. low vegetable intake).
Directors of regulated child care centres described increased costs, limited variety of acceptable food options, and issues of child and adult food acceptance as the three main challenges faced by regulated child care centres during their implementation of the food and nutrition policy. Most parents support the intention behind the policy, however it is unclear whether it has affected family feeding practices.
Parents and caregivers all expressed a desire for the children in their care to develop a healthy relationship with food but acknowledge a range of challenges with achieving this goal. With this in mind we believe that we should prioritize how children are fed as well as what they fed; hence the focus on healthy food environments.