Twist & Sprout program brings healthy eating, physical activity to child care providers
Funding from Blue Cross provides certification to child care programs who go the extra mile to create healthy environments for the state’s youngest residents.
Getting Minnesotans off to a healthy start early in life is critical to their health in adulthood. So where better to begin such healthy activity than in the settings children spend much of their time: in early learning and care environments. With the help of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), Providers Choice — a leader in supporting child care professionals in serving healthy meals and snacks to children in these settings — has developed their unique Twist & Sprout initiative that child care providers can adopt to implement healthy foods and physical activity into their practices.
The research on healthy child behavior and the importance of early intervention, gives great support to the Twist & Sprout program, with data from the American Heart Association showing obese children as young as 3 will already show indications for developing heart disease in adulthood, and overweight children between the ages of 7 and 13 could develop heart disease as early as 25. Using such a unique program, early child care providers have the opportunity to both provide a healthy environment for children and educate parents on incorporating those healthy habits at home. The Twist & Sprout initiative supports child care providers through offerings like engaging, in-person workshops; seasonal menus with breakfasts, lunches and snacks that meet the Child and Adult Care Food Program standards; instructional videos led by a real chef; culinary skills refresher videos; and resources for parents.
“We know through the research that children who attend child care settings that participate in initiatives such as the USDA Food Program eat healthier than those who don’t, and that children who consume a healthy diet are sick less often, have more energy and fewer health problems,” said Janelle Waldock, director at the Center. “At the Center, we believe in the importance of providing children with healthy environments from a young age so they are ready to enter kindergarten, succeed in school, and in life. Twist & Sprout embodies that principle, which is why we are so proud to fund the Twist & Sprout initiative through Providers Choice.”
One of the most impactful parts of the program is the opportunity for child care programs to become Twist & Sprout Certified. The certification is awarded to child care providers who put best practices into action by creating a healthy environment for children in their care. To receive certification, providers have to meet a number of criteria, including the incorporation of healthy eating and physical activity into their care on a daily basis and having a written wellness policy. The certification allows child care providers to show off their skills and differentiate themselves from others, and also serves as a great tool for parents to make more informed decisions about where to send their children for care.
“Having the certification sets us apart from other child care options,” said Becky Gill, who offers child care services in Inver Grove Heights, a suburb of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. “Parents know that their children are going to eat healthy, nutritious foods while they’re here, which makes it easier for parents to feed them that same food when they’re at home. We also keep them engaged with active play that helps create an overall healthy environment. We’re so proud to know that the children we care for will be healthier because they were here.”
Twist & Spout workshops are available across the state, and there are already 45 Twist & Sprout Certified child care providers who have demonstrated a commitment to safe and healthy eating policies as well as structured active play to help keep the next generation of Minnesotans healthy. To find a Twist & Sprout Certified provider, visit www.providerschoice.com and click on “Search for Child Care in Minnesota.” Twist & Sprout Certified providers have the Twist & Sprout logo next to their name.About Providers Choice
Providers Choice supports child care professionals in serving healthy meals and snacks to the children in their care. As the largest nonprofit sponsor of the Child and Adult Care Food Program in the United States, we provide training, compliance monitoring and technical assistance to over 4,000 family child care providers and centers. Providers Choice is headquartered in the west metro of the Twin Cities and serves all 87 counties in Minnesota. To learn more about Providers Choice, visit their website at ProvidersChoice.com. To learn more about the Twist & Sprout program, visit ProvidersChoice.com/TwistandSprout.About the Center for Prevention
The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross’ historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, we collaborate with organizations statewide to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state. Visit CenterforPreventionMN.com for more information.About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com), with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.
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