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Healthy Eating

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified 34 census tracts in Fulton County as food deserts. Approximately 150,000 persons live in these census tracks. By working with community partners to improve options, as well as working with schools and Early Care and Education (ECE)  centers in areas where data indicate there are high rates of childhood obesity, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) Program has a goal of improving access to healthy food and beverage options for all persons in the identified high-risk areas.

According to Achieving a State of Healthy Weight: 2013 Supplement, Georgia ranks 29th among all 50 states in how well its regulations governing ECE  facilities  address healthy weight practices. A 2014 report from the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Education found that only 18% of Georgia's provisions governing infant feeding and nutrition practices in ECE settings fully met the evidence-based standards for nutrition. Of the ECE providers surveyed in Fulton County, 30% do not have written policies in place that are aligned to evidence-based promoting healthy nutrition practices.

The PICH Program's Early Care and Education Policy initiative will  help ECE providers create policies that support healthy nutrition and infant feeding practices and will provide technical assistance to facilitate the implementation of these policies. Specifically, the PICH Program will work with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Adult Learning (DECAL), community partners, school administrations, staff, parents, and students at child care learning centers within Fulton County to increase the number of ECE providers that incorporate the following accepted practices into their operations:  

  • Physical Activity: Provide 1 to 2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.
  • Screen Time: No screen time for children under the age of 2. For ages 2 and older, work to limit screen time to 30 minutes per week in day care settings. Aim for no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality screen time at home. ¬†
  • Nutrition: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal. Eat meals family-style whenever possible. Avoid serving fried foods.
  • Beverage Consumption: ¬†Provide water during meals and all day. Avoid sugary drinks. Serve low- or non-fat milk and no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100% juice a day to ages 2 ¬†and older.
  • Breast Feeding: ¬†Provide breast milk to infants of mothers who wish to breastfeed. Welcome mothers to nurse mid-day and support parents' decisions regarding infant feeding.

This work will occur in tandem with the PICH Program's other physical activity efforts, facilitating an integrated approach for assessing, developing, and implementing nutrition and physical activity policies as part of an overall wellness policy initiative.

Success Stories

PICH's Healthy Eating Program collaborates with HealthMPowers and the Georgia Department of Early Care and Adult Learning (DECAL) and funds a project to help early care and education providers in Fulton County establish healthy nutrition practices and physical activity programs. Under the initiative, HealthMPowers educates day care center staff members about the benefits of healthy eating and regular physical activity and then trains them to write and implement wellness protocols that meet accepted standards.  In 2016, teams from 49 centers completed the training sessions and are receiving technical assistance as they enact their new policies.

Printable Healthy Eating Program Fact Sheet

2016 National Farmers' Market Week Information and Resources

National Nutrition Month and National School Breakfast Week Toolkits

Early Care and Education Program Video