Flint Child Care Providers Fighting City's Lead Crisis Through Good Nutrition

Association for Child Development distributes tips to city's child care homes, schedules "Fighting Lead with Nutrition" workshop for public

Feb 25, 2016, 08:00 ET from Association for Child Development

EAST LANSING, Mich., Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Child care homes in Flint have a key role to play in helping children affected by the city's lead crisis, according to the Association for Child Development (ACD).

"Many kids get as much as two-thirds of their daily food intake when they're in child care and preschool," said Billie Wimmer, chief executive officer of ACD. "So it's crucial that child care providers are armed with information about how good nutrition can limit the effects of kids' exposure to lead through their drinking water."

The Association has distributed information to "Fight Lead with Nutrition" to 31 child care providers it works with throughout the city. The information includes signs of lead poisoning, nutrition steps parents and caregivers can use for their children, a location guide to water giveaways, and resources that center and home providers can access to help protect the children in their care.

ACD recommends all child care facilities in Flint:

  • Encourage parents/guardians to get their child screened for lead poisoning by their doctor.
  • Contact parents/guardians if you think their child is showing signs of lead poisoning.
  • Prevent stomachs from being completely empty by serving small snacks between meals.
  • Provide healthy, balanced diets with a variety of foods.
  • Serve more foods with calcium, iron, and vitamin C to prevent more lead from being absorbed.

"Calcium, iron, and vitamin C are especially important," said Wimmer. "Calcium strengthens bones and prevents lead absorption. Iron helps prevent lead from being absorbed, and vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from food."

Angie McNeal, a licensed child care provider who operates the Blessed Little Children child care home in Flint, says it's crucial lead and nutrition information like ACD's reach all child care providers because they often provide the majority of children's meals. She takes care of up to 10 children, providing breakfast, early snack and lunch daily. She emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables and uses only bottled water.

"They come in the door hungry and they might not eat again until they come back, so I don't give them anything that I wouldn't eat. It's important. Nutrition plays a role with their entire development."

The public is invited to ACD's "Fighting Lead with Nutrition" workshop from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 23 at the Flint Public Library, 1026 E. Kearsley St., Room B1. Child care providers who attend will receive 1.5 training credits. Space is limited so please RSVP to Amanda Gallaher by calling 517-332-7200 ext. 113 or emailing agallaher@acdkids.org.

The workshop will cover the health effects of lead, preventing future lead exposure, important nutrients and foods, healthy menus and recipes and other helpful resources.

"This isn't just a short-term problem," said Wimmer. "Good nutrition can benefit lead-exposed kids in the long-term as well. As local experts have pointed out, nutrition plays a tremendous role in promoting child brain development. Good eating habits learned early can make a dramatic difference."

The Association for Child Development administers one of the largest Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsorships in the nation, serving both the states of Michigan and Illinois. It monitors more than 4,500 child care homes and fulfills its mission by ensuring that nearly 46,000 children receive nutritious meals and snacks each day. For more information, visit their website at www.acdkids.org.

"Educating parents and caregivers about nutrition to promote the development of children and establish healthy eating habits to last a lifetime."

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/ complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or  (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.This institution is an equal opportunity provider.  (11/2015)

Contact: Aimee Klevorn, (517) 332-7200

SOURCE Association for Child Development