The University of Massachusetts Department of Nutrition and the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension have developed a free, online, interactive food safety program for Farm to Preschool programs. We would appreciate it if you could forward this announcement to those who may be interested in participating in this exciting new program.

One of the best ways to develop healthy eating habits that will last for a lifetime is to expose children to fresh fruits and vegetables at an early age. Early Childcare programs across the country have introduced farm and garden activities into their schools. Activities include field trips to local farms, incorporating local produce into menus, planting vegetable gardens, and including fresh produce in lesson plans. However, as with all food products, food safety is an important concern. Young children are at greater risk for foodborne illness so it is essential to minimize this risk.

Food Safety from Farm and Garden to Preschool Training Program is available online at www.umass.edu/safefoodfarm2kid. This free, self-paced program was created to help early childcare educators, foodservice staff, volunteers and parents understand the importance of reducing the risk of food safety related to fresh fruits and vegetables for young children. The program includes five units:

. Farm to Preschool Benefits
. Fresh Produce and Foodborne Illness Risks
. Food Safety Basics for the Classroom and the Kitchen
. Food Safety and Gardening Activities
. Food Safety on Field Trips to Farms and Farmers’ Market

Printable resources such as Best Practices Planning Tools, resources, and Certificates of Completion are available and may be able to be used towards Professional Development requirements. This project was supported through USDA NIFA project award 2011-5110-30996. For more information on the program and to get started, visit www.umass.edu/safefoodfarm2kid.