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Early Childhood Programs and Resources

The Health Department works with children, parents and staff in child care settings and schools to improve nutrition and physical activity.

Nutrition Education Programs for Young Children:

  • Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings
  • Farm to Preschool
  • Farmers’ Markets for Kids

Resources for Child Care Centers:

  • Monthly newsletter
  • Classroom lesson plans
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Curricula
  • Policy Support
  • Toolkits and Promotional Materials
  • Breastfeeding and Oral Health resources
Nutritional Education Programs for Young Children
  • Eat Well Play Hard: Nutrition Workshops for Children, Parents and Staff at Child Care Centers
    At eligible child care centers, registered dietitians from the Health Department provide hands-on workshops on nutrition and physical activity. Using the Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings curriculum, registered dietitians provide fun, engaging nutrition and cooking classes for 3- and 4-year-old children and for parents and caregivers. In addition, dietitians provide nutrition workshops for center staff. To find out if a center is eligible to participate or to get more information, please contact

  • Farmers’ Markets for Kids provides free, bilingual food-based activities for children at select farmers’ markets (PDF) from July - November. Classes encourage children to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables by engaging them in hands-on activities. Children explore fruits and vegetables, taste featured recipes and receive a $2 Health Buck coupon.

To schedule a field trip, email

2015 Markets:

  • Farm to Preschool brings fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to select New York City preschools, giving parents, staff and community members weekly access to fresh produce.

Each week, from July through November, parents, staff and community members can purchase a produce box with a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables at participating preschools. Prices range from $12 to $14, and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, Health Bucks, cash, credit and debit are accepted.

Farm to Preschool also provides nutrition education and on-site food demonstrations. Lessons include the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and how to prepare simple, healthy recipes with locally grown produce. In addition, teachers use the United States Department of Agriculture’s  “Grow it, Try it, Like it” curriculum in the classroom and garden, giving children hands on experience with in-season fruits and vegetables.

For more information, contact

Resources for Child Care Centers
  • Monthly Newsletter:
    Eat Healthy, Be Active:  A newsletter for Group Child Care Centers distributed to directors of NYC child care centers each month. Tools and resources are provided to help center staff create and maintain a healthy environment for children and parents. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive:
  • Classroom cooking and physical activity ideas
  • Healthy recipes for staff and parents
  • Bilingual handouts to distribute to parents promoting healthy habits at home 
  • Helpful resources such as free nutrition curriculum
  • Up-to-date health information
  • Upcoming trainings and wellness events

Nutrition and Physical Activity curricula:

  • Growing Healthy Children: A Nutrition Education Curriculum for Preschools
    Growing Healthy Children, a nutrition education curriculum (PDF), makes it easy for teachers of children 3-and-4 year old children to implement nutrition lessons and cooking activities in the classroom. It also includes bilingual handouts for caregivers. This curriculum is adapted, with permission, from the Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings Curriculum developed by the New York State Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings for Pre-K through 1st Grade Nutrition Education curriculum

Eat Well Play HardThe Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings for Pre-K through 1st Grade Nutrition Education curriculum provides six modules of hands-on nutrition lessons for pre-K through 1st grade classrooms. It was developed by the New York City Health Department and is based on the Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings Curriculum developed by the New York State Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Download curriculum (PDF).
For more information, please contact

  • Move-to-Improve Early Childhood curriculum offers a comprehensive and engaging way to help teachers integrate physical activity into all areas of classroom academics. It is designed to help child care centers and preschools reach the NYC Health Code mandated 30 minutes of structured physical activity per day.
  • Early Childhood Lessons, 1st half (PDF)
  • Early Childhood Lessons, 2nd half (PDF)
  • Visual aid cards (PDF)
  • The Move-to-Improve Elementary School program is designed to help public schools reach the NYSED mandated 120 minutes per week of physical education instruction. This program is implemented by the NYC Department of Education.

Policy Support:

  • Article 47 Child Care Regulations for New York City (PDF) provides an overview of nutrition and physical activity regulations for child care centers: §47.61 (food and food safety) and §47.71 (physical activity and limits on television viewing).
  • Growing Healthy Children: A Guide to Improving Physical Activity and Nutrition in Group Child Care Centers (PDF)
    Having a written and well-communicated policy will help ensure that your child care center is a place where children can develop healthy habits – habits that they can carry with them into adulthood. Child care centers are encouraged to support healthy habits among young children by developing and adopting a written nutrition and physical activity policy, which builds upon city and federal regulations and standards. To assist in developing a policy, this guide provides examples of written policies and communication tools for child care centers.

Toolkits and Promotional Materials:

  • Growing Healthy Children: Promoting Nutrition and Physical Activity in Child Care Settings (PDF) provides child care center with promotional materials to support the development of healthy habits. The Growing Healthy Children toolkit promotional materials include:
    • Nutrition and physical activity posters that provide clear and simple messages for families around nutrition and physical activity for children ages 0-5 years; and
    • Information sheets with necessary information on each poster topic and ideas for promoting the messages in the child care center.

For more information regarding these materials (electronic versions available in Español中文বাংলাCreole and 정의), please contact

  • Breastfeeding and Child Care Centers
    Breastfeeding provides many health benefits for both babies and mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, for the first six months, mothers feed their babies only breast milk. After that, breastfeeding is recommended for a year or longer, while starting on other foods.
    • Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding and order free literature and posters (PDF) to support breastfeeding in your center from the NYC Department of Health.
    • The New York State Health Department recognizes providers that support breastfeeding in their center with Breastfeeding Friendly Certificates. Become a Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Center and support breastfeeding mothers and child care center staff who want to continue to provide breast milk to their infants.
  • Children’s Oral Health
    Tooth decay can affect adults and children, even infants and toddlers, but can be prevented. Learn about supporting children’s oral health and obtain free posters for your child care center.
Additional Resources
Program Support:

Curriculum and Education:

  • Choose My Plate provides nutrition education tools and resources that support the US Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Eating.
  • EatPlayGrow is a new early childhood health curriculum and the first to be approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Center for Disease Control (CDC). In partnership with the NIH, Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) adapted the We Can!® obesity prevention program (originally for ages 8-13) to create EatPlayGrow™ for use with children ages 6 and younger and their adult caregivers.
  • Grow It, Try It, Like It! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables is a garden-themed nutrition education kit for child care center staff that introduces children to fruits and vegetables.  
  • Team Nutrition Resources A-Z provides a comprehensive listing of all the resources available through Team Nutrition to schools and child care facilities that participate in Federal Child Nutrition Programs.