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Child Care NPA Forums

preschool shinesThe California Department of Education (CDE) is offering three Nutrition and Physical Activity Forums statewide. The forums will highlight and demonstrate methods for integrating nutrition education, edible gardens, wellness policies, and physical activity into child care center classrooms and day care homes. Participants will learn ways to create learning environments that maximize opportunities for children to develop healthy eating habits and to move their bodies to learn. These forums provide a unique platform where early childhood educators can express challenges and develop solutions toward supporting active living and healthy eating environments. All attendees leave with a variety of tools and resources they can immediately utilize in day care homes or child care center classrooms.

Table of Contents

Dates and Locations

Location Date   Time Address Register
Sacramento County Saturday, March 23, 2019 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

National Univeristy 10901 Gold Center Drive. Suite 101 Rancho Cordova, CA 95670






Orange County

Saturday, March 30, 2019 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Orange County Department of Education
200 Kalmus Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626




Arrival/Registration (light refreshments provided)                    8:00 – 8:30 a.m

Welcome, Warm-Up, and Introductions                                   8:30 – 8:45 a.m

Discovering Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains                             8:45 – 10:15 a.m.

Break (light refreshments provided)                                        10:15 – 10:30 a.m.

Breakout Session 1
Using an Edible Garden Classroom  -or- 
Active Bodies, Active Minds                                                    10:30 – 12:10 p.m.

Lunch (lunch provided)                                                            12:10 – 12:40 p.m.

Breakout Session 2
Using an Edible Garden Classroom  -or-
Active Bodies, Active Minds                                                     12:40 – 2:20 p.m.

Preschool Policies and Practice                                                 2:20 – 4:00 p.m.

Evaluations and Q&A                                                                 4:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Session Descriptions

Discovering Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains
This hands-on session will demonstrate ways to incorporate nutrition throughout the preschool day using the Food for Thought curriculum. The curriculum’s 32 lessons incorporate math, science, and literacy concepts and are aligned with the California Preschool Learning Foundations and the Desired Results Development Profile©. The Food for Thought lessons are fun for children and easy to implement. Attendees will receive a copy of the curriculum at the forum.

Active Bodies, Active Minds
Young children show us how active their minds and bodies are every day. As facilitators of play, teachers need to be intentional and integrative in their approach. This session will explore the importance of physical activity and active play, how much physical activity is appropriate for young children, the integration of school readiness skills disguised in fun activities, as well as the benefits of yoga for children and adults. Attendees will receive compact discs with a variety of songs for movement and easy-to-use physical activity props. All activities are linked to the California Preschool Learning Foundations.

Using an Edible Garden Classroom
A garden, however large or small, provides young children with endless opportunities to explore the natural world, harvest and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, and engage in meaningful learning. This session will address how to design a garden, provide helpful resources for garden educators, and introduce garden-related literature for preschoolers. Participants will take part in hands-on, garden-based nutrition activities that engage children’s curiosity and enthusiasm while introducing them to healthy eating and basic environmental science. All activities are linked to the California Preschool Learning Foundations.

Preschool Policies and Practices
This session will introduce what constitutes a good Wellness Policy and will teach participants how to develop policies related to nutrition education, gardens, and physical activity. Participants will have the opportunity to ask the panel questions and together develop solutions to policy development challenges.


Jennifer McNeil, RDN, SNS, is the founder of LunchAssist, a project that is helping child nutrition programs throughout California. Her past experience includes positions as Director of Child Nutrition Services for the Encinitas Union School District, Assistant Food Service Director for the Hemet Unified School District (HUSD), and Consulting Dietitian for the Hemet Preschool Head Start and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Ms. McNeil helped the HUSD earn 13 Gold Awards of Distinction through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Healthier US Schools Challenge.

April Cunningham has worked for the North Coast Opportunities (NCO) Head Start program in Ukiah for 25 years. In her position as Nutrition Coordinator, she monitored the CACFP, trained staff and parents, and provided support to families facing nutritional challenges. Her program was awarded a USDA Team Nutrition Grant through the CDE to develop the nutrition education curriculum for preschoolers, Food for Thought.  She has worked for the past two years in the NCO Community Action program supporting farm to school efforts, gardens activities, and other community food and nutrition-related ventures. She contributes abundant experience and passion in the nutrition, culinary, and gardening world.

Julia Schreiber is a program staff member of the Ecological Garden and Student Farm at the University of California, Davis. She works with students to grow flowers, vegetables, and fruits for the Children’s Garden Program, campus events, and farmers markets. Over the past 15 years Julia has coordinated farm- and garden-based experiential education programs for schools, camps, and environmental stewardship organizations.

Patricia A. Kimbrell, M.Ed., is an author, director of videos, and national consultant who travels around the country presenting on physical activity, childhood obesity prevention, motor development, and active family engagement. She was a faculty member at San Diego State University for 12 years, where she instructed future teachers in elementary physical education. She believes if an appreciation for movement and healthy eating is developed at an early age, it is more likely to continue for a lifetime.

Target Audience

Making changes and improving the nutrition and physical activity environment at a child care site requires a team effort. Therefore, the primary target participants for the forums are child care center teachers, directors, family child care home providers, and monitors from sponsoring agencies. All staff contributing to the wellness environment of the child care program are also welcome.

Forum Prerequisite

Forum participants are encouraged to complete the Preschool Nutrition and Active Physical Play course on the Healthy and Active Preschoolers Web site before attending the forum in order to be familiar with the jargon and concepts discussed at the forums. Three professional growth hours can be earned by successfully completing this online course.

Professional Growth Hours

The forums offer 7.5 professional growth hours which will help teachers renew their Child Development Permit.

Registration and Cost

Registration is completed online through a registration link: 

The cost to attend the forum is $25 and includes morning snacks, lunch, a printed certificate of completion, and a tote bag filled with nutrition and garden curricula, nutrition-related books for children, and physical activity music and props.


Dress comfortably. All of the sessions are hands-on and participants will be physically active, especially during the Active Minds, Active Bodies session.

Cancellation and Refunds

We regretfully cannot issue refunds for this event. However, a substitute participant may be sent in place of the original participant.


For information about the forum program agenda, help with online registration, sending a replacement, or canceling, please contact Maria Lazaro by email at or by phone at 805-465-4464 or 800-770-6339.