Kira Boothe, Vista Colina Emergency Family Shelter & Child Development Program, Phoenix, Arizona
Families can stay at the shelter a maximum of 120 days. What lasting change can the Child Development Program make in young children’s lives?
Introduce the children to fresh, healthy foods and information about the benefits of good nutrition.
How She Did It
Many of the children who enter Kira’s program have never seen whole foods before; they’ve been exposed largely to fast foods and convenience foods from cans, boxes, and bags. Thanks to the Vista Colina’s voluntary participation in Arizona’s Quality First Program, Kira has been able to bring in expert consultants that have helped transform the program’s approach to nutrition
Kira started by introducing the children to various fresh fruits and vegetables and letting them explore the foods with their senses. Next, one of those new foods would show up on the lunch menu. Eventually, Kira enlisted the children to help plant a vegetable garden.
Kira now sees the upside to running a program where there’s so much turnover: she’s able to expose as many children as possible to healthy foods, where they come from, and the benefits to their bodies.
Kira has heard many stories from parents about how their children now choose healthy, fresh foods from the grocery store rather than a bag of chips or candy. Children are also telling parents that they need to drink milk and water because it’s better for their teeth and bodies. “We hope that the children’s exposure to healthy foods and physical activity while they are here with us at the center will be carried with them and their families long after they leave,” says Kira.
On Kira’s Wish List
Funding so the program can erect a fence around the garden to keep out the many feral cats in the neighborhood.