Dole Food, DECAL, Healthy Kids Ga. Partner to Improve Early Childhood Nutrition Standards

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Dole Food Company and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s Healthy Kids Georgia Program last week announced a partnership with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) to promote good nutrition and increased physical activity in early childcare and education programs.

“Georgia’s childhood obesity epidemic is too large for any one organization or person to address alone. We must work together to collaboratively present our children and families with healthy lifestyle options so we can bring about real change and tackle this daunting challenge,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “Innovative public-private partnerships, like the one we’re launching, that bring together state, private, and community resources to confront the troubling trends we face in childhood obesity will have a lasting impact on future generations.”

DECAL COmmissioner Bobby Cagle helps pre-schoolers open their Dole fruit cups
DECAL Commissioner Bobby Cagle, helps kids from the YMCA of Metro Atlanta break into their Dole fruit cups.

The new program, called Quality Rated, is Georgia’s newly implemented quality rating and improvement system. Programs voluntarily participating in Quality Rated receive points by demonstrating commitment to five program standards, including child health, nutrition, and physical activity. The nutrition standard offers early care and education programs the opportunity to reflect on their current health and nutrition standards and identify areas that can be improved. Points are assessed for this standard based on the completion of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Assessment, written improvement plans with documentation of actions taken to complete the plans, and evidence that the program has met each of the requirements listed for the standard.

“This is the third year of our partnership with Lt. Gov. Cagle and Healthy Kids Georgia, and the DECAL program is the most comprehensive element to date,” said Marty Ordman, vice president of Marketing and Communications at Dole Food Company. “Quality Rated rewards early childhood education programs that are meeting important nutrition standards and we’re honored to help projects hit these goals by exposing young students to more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.”

As many schools are scaling back their implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Georgia is providing incentives to schools that are working to serve better food to their students. Research shows that children must be exposed to vegetables 10 to 12 times before they will eat them on their own. Programs that increase this exposure in new settings will help young people develop healthy eating habits that they will carry with them into adulthood.

“We know that even our youngest learners need to start understanding why healthy food choices and exercise lead to a path of a lifelong health and well-being,” said Bobby Cagle, commissioner of DECAL.  “That’s why the Dole Food Company and Lt. Gov. Cagle’s Healthy Kids Georgia Program are going to make a real difference as they recognize Quality Rated child care programs that are committed to making health, nutrition and physical activity a priority. Public-private partnerships like this play a vitally important role in helping us meet our goals of nurturing Georgia’s youngest children, keeping them safe and healthy, and enriching their lives.”

Learn more about the Quality Rated program.

Bill Valladares

GaFCP Communications Director
404-527-7394 (x114)

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