Luwillis Canada — she goes by Ms. Lu — is an early education director who believes that along with their ABCs and 123s, kids need to know their carrots, tomatoes and cantaloupes too! That’s why Canada’s Child Care Center in Kansas City, Missouri has a garden where kids can plant, tend, harvest and eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
Families and teachers are invited to visit the garden and harvest food to take home, but during the pandemic, job losses and food supply problems meant Ms. Lu’s families needed more than the garden could provide.
When she heard about KC Healthy Kids’ free farm box delivery, she signed up right away. Every other week, families received bundles of fresh produce, eggs, dairy and meat from local farmers.
“You know, I was born in Arkansas and my parents had a big farm and they also raised a big garden. I was raised on fruits and vegetables, and so I knew how it would benefit a child to have that too,” Ms. Lu said.
Across the metro, about 200 families at partnering early care centers signed up for farm shares. Not only was the bountiful box full of healthy, delicious foods, it was also delivered to their early care center, so busy parents didn’t have to make another stop on the way home.
KC Healthy Kids purchased the food and partnered with the Kansas City Food Hub to have the farm shares assembled and delivered. So by signing up for farm shares, families helped local farmers by providing them with income and way to keep their crops from dying in the field.
You can help Ms. Lu feed her kids healthy, locally-grown produce and keep area farmers in business when you support KC Healthy Kids’ Local Food programs like this one.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II recently visited with KC Healthy Kids to share his perspective on the power of youth voices and to hear about kids’ proposals to make their schools and communities healthier.
“Change, in the history of this planet, has almost always been brought about by young people,” he said. “The world depends on young people because their minds are fresh and they have a level of daring”
He told how, at age 15, he led the first civil rights march in Wichita Falls when 50 students joined him in protesting segregated movie theaters there. He also shared a foolproof tactic for getting the attention of elected officials -- kids need to do the talking!
“Nobody, nobody wants to get on the bad side of kids,” he said, “You have much more power than you believe.”
The visit was made possible through a grant from Healthy Blue, a leading managed care provider of health benefits for Missouri’s MO HealthNet (Medicaid) program, which serves more than 300,000 Medicaid members with innovative solutions and services for affordable and reliable healthcare.
Representative Cleaver reviewed proposals by students from Central Middle School, EPiC Elementary, Banneker Elementary and Foreign Language Academy. The projects won first place or received honorable recognition in KC Healthy Kids’ Champions for Health Challenge. You can see all the winning proposals with photos here.
“Healthy Blue is proud to support KC Healthy Kids and the Champions for Health Challenge,” said Jeff Davis, plan president, Healthy Blue. “We remain committed to providing our local youth with tools and resources to promote and encourage healthy and productive lifestyles. Through this initiative, students were able to engage alongside their peers with brain-stimulating activity that will create and improve overall quality of life that furthers our mission of building healthier communities.”
Emanuel Cleaver II has represented Missouri's Fifth Congressional District in Washington, DC for over 15 years. Before that, he was a city council member and the first Black mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. One of Representative Cleaver’s biggest accomplishments was establishing a Green Impact Zone. That project brought resources and money into under-resourced neighborhoods to rebuild curbs and sidewalks, fix up houses and make them energy efficient, and create jobs. Today he’s going to talk about why your voice matters and how to engage your decision makers to make change in your community
The Urban Farm Zoning and Planning Task Force just released their report From the Ground Up: Planning and Zoning for Urban Agriculture in Greater Kansas City. The report is a tool for urban planners, city staff, urban farmers and advocates to use to address the biggest barriers to urban agriculture in the Kansas City region.
The first section of this report gives an overview of urban agriculture and its benefits. The second section provides best practices and resources to plan for urban agriculture. The third section outlines seven barriers and offers policy recommendations and case studies to support urban agriculture.
The Greater KC Food Policy Coalition established the task force in April 2020 to improve community food security by identifying and advocating for planning and zoning policies that ensure urban farmers are able to operate successfully. Moving forward, the report will inform the coalition's work to advocate for policy change.
If you'd like to join us in advocating for urban agriculture, fill out this form and we'll be in touch.
Changing lifelong eating habits can be a daunting and expensive task. Whether its for environmental, health, economic, or moral reasons, or if you just want you food to taste better, Local food is the way to go! But where do you start? remain calm, we are here for you! Here are our favorite ways to help people just like you start eating more local, organic, and free-range food.
Until today, Missouri was one of the few states that did not participate in the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Thanks to State Rep. Martha Stevens, State Sen. Lauren Arthur and advocates across the state, legislation establishing the program passed as an amendment to House Bill 432.
WIC FMNP is a federally funded program that provides WIC participants with coupons to purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. It puts healthy food within reach for moms and kids while injecting federal dollars into local economies across Missouri.
"This bill is a win for families, farmers, and local economies around the state," Stevens said. "This measure provides direct support for women and children and helps address the serious issue of food insecurity in our state."
WIC participants include low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children up to 5 years of age who are found to be at nutritional risk. Feeding America estimates over 290,000 Missouri kids were food insecure in 2020.
House Bill 432 also establishes the Missouri Food Security Task Force to make recommendations to improve food access and ensure food security for urban and rural communities.
A walk through the produce section of a supermarket might leave you thinking we can have all kinds of delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables year-round, at least until you actually bite into that January strawberry from South America. These days, most produce in supermarkets comes from California, Florida, and other states with longer growing seasons. Often it is shipped from other countries thousands of miles away. This is true even in the spring, summer, and fall, when local fruits and vegetables are available.
Updated: Kansas City, Missouri City Council passed the ordinance this evening.
In 1912, Kansas City, Missouri became the first city to criminalize pedestrians in public streets. Today city council members will vote on an ordinance that would reverse that traffic law. It would also exempt people using active transportation, like bikes and scooters, from being ticketed for dirty or muddy tires and no longer allow cyclists to be stopped for a bike inspection.
While we want to ensure that kids and teens are safe to walk and bike, these laws does little to protect their safety. Reporters in Jacksonville, Florida analyzed five years of data but found "no strong relationship between where tickets are being issued and where [pedestrians] are being killed."
What they did find was that enforcement of pedestrian laws disproportionately impacted Black people and people in low-income neighborhoods. The same inequitable trends have been observed in other cities.
It is also unreasonable to punish people for walking in the street when many neighborhoods still lack safe and accessible sidewalks, especially in under-resourced and Black and Brown neighborhoods.
Because of this, some street safety experts have argued for decriminalizing walking and biking. There are better ways to decrease pedestrian injuries and fatalities. That's why we advocate for policies, like Complete Streets, that invest in sidewalks, streets and public spaces that are safe and accessible for all users.
Learn how jaywalking became a crime and why we advocate for streets designed for people.
By Nancy Osborn, Ph.D., Psychologist/Trainer
Early childhood education centers are among the hardest hit services during this current pandemic. Some have closed temporarily, and some have closed permanently. All of the centers have had to make major changes in their operations as they follow recommended guidelines for child care programs.
There have also been major decreases in the number of children coming into the centers, either because of parents’ understandable concerns about COVID 19, or countless other stressors that they are facing such as unemployment, housing instability, etc.
What makes these challenges particularly heartbreaking is that early childhood educators are still caring for our children, whether the children are there or not — they have compassion toward the children they care for and they, as many of us, are concerned about the children’s safety and their emotional and social development during this time. Early childhood educators remain engaged with the children and families.
Educating caregivers about trauma
KC Healthy Kids has received several grants, including one from Health Forward Foundation, to educate early childhood teachers and staff about trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed care is a perspective that educates people about how widespread trauma is, how trauma impacts people, and how to sensitively and safely approach others.
KC Healthy Kids’ trauma-informed care training began in February 2020, and it couldn’t have come at a more relevant time. It is important for early childhood educators to recognize that children and families have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and to use trauma-sensitive principles to support children and their parents.
Through our training, we demonstrate that challenging behavior may be a sign that a child has experienced trauma. They have been impacted by what has happened to them and have developed behaviors that help them cope or get their needs met. This can result in behaviors that are challenging to comprehend and, for early childhood educators in particular, to manage. If educators embody trauma-sensitive principles, they can show a child that the world is actually safer than he or she may believe.
Trauma-sensitive principles emphasize the importance of safety, trust through transparency, voice and choice, collaboration and empowerment. When people approach others with these principles in mind, it can lead to the development of healthy relationships. Developing healthy relationships is crucial in early childhood education (and any other kind of setting) and can lead to healing.
Another important facet of our trauma-informed care education is teaching self-care to caregivers. There is no doubt that early childhood educators are impacted by the trauma the children have experienced in their lives so it is particularly important that these teachers understand the impact of trauma, learn trauma-sensitive principles, and to take good care of themselves.
It is also important for early childhood staff to recognize that they are impacted by all of the stressors that they may have experienced in their past as well as what they and their own families are experiencing now. Managing these stressors, recognizing when they are overwhelmed, and practicing good self-care will most likely help them make better decisions; keep their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions better regulated; and ultimately help them in their work, home, and personal lives.
Education for families
Families that may have already experienced trauma are additionally burdened by the upheaval caused by the pandemic. Even families without a history of trauma are currently stressed by the new roles they have had to take on, in addition to following guidelines recommended by the CDC and the scientific community. This stress can certainly impact mental health, which can result in atypical behaviors for children and adults.
Fortunately, through the grants KC Healthy Kids has received, parents will also have the opportunity to receive trauma-informed training and education.
Early childhood educators interested in this training can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If parents have specific concerns about their child, they can contact their local community mental health center. See our list of Mental Health Resources
This post was originally published on Health Forward Foundation's blog in 2020 as part of a series.
The epidemic of violence in this country is a public health crisis. It shatters families and impacts our sense of safety and overall health and well-being, including the ways we access food, physical activity, community, school and work.
KC Healthy Kids emphatically condemns and remains committed to confronting violence and oppression which create barriers for many who want to access the community-based solutions KC Healthy Kids promotes: youth advocacy, mental health, good food policy, local food, and active communities.
As we work to advance the health and well-being of kids and their communities, we strive to recognize and support the incredible resilience communities demonstrate in the face of violence and to remember to start by listening
Here are some things we’re doing now. We’ve provided links so you can learn more and take action too.
Fans of Kansas City’s local food community have a new way to find farms, markets, restaurants and retailers near them with a brand new tool, the Eat Local KC map.
It was created to amplify resources and relationships through storytelling and connecting people to the local food system. The map will also help illustrate opportunities within our food system for improving infrastructure to facilitate processing, transportation, and other preparation necessary to sell to consumers.
Eat Local KC is built for eaters, growers, wholesale buyers and anyone else invested in local food. You can easily navigate the map using layers that highlight different aspects of our local food system:
Additional layers will be added in the future to include institutions that buy wholesale local food and other aspects of our local food system. This map is not yet complete, and we look forward to adding everyone involved in the local food system as soon as possible.
Make the most of the map
We realize there are other food system maps in Missouri and Kansas, but Kansas City is uniquely situated to envelop both sides of the state line so we need a map that reflects our connections all around the Kansas City metropolitan area and beyond. This map is regional and will span a radius of 250 miles around Kansas City to show the entire network of farmers, infrastructure, and buyers who work together to feed our region.
Eat Local KC was created in partnership with several organizations working together to build relationships within the local food system, to increase local food purchasing in institutions, and to help beginning farmers and seasoned growers create opportunities to sell local food.
Partners include West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, Cultivate KC, K-State Research & Extension, New Growth Missouri, The KC Food Hub, and University of Missouri Extension. Funding was provided by the Health Forward Foundation and USDA.
If you want to be included in the map or have questions on how to use the map, please reach out to Autumn Winegar at email@example.com.