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Nutrition Education Current Research and Outreach Projects nutrition is important for growing children. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables at an early age is the best way to develop healthy eating habits that will last for a lifetime.  However, young children are at a greater risk for food borne illness if fresh produce is not handled properly.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plant based food products were responsible for approximately 46% of all foodborne illnesses from 1998 – 2008. Through a USDA NIFA grant, the project investigators identified the produce-handling practices, attitudes, and knowledge of early childcare educators and foodservice staff in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Nearly half the centers assessed used some combination of farm visits, planting gardens, serving local produce, holding taste tests or conducting nutrition education.  Only 63%, however, reported that children always wash hands after picking garden foods; and only 50% used clean containers to harvest fruits and vegetables.  These results were used to develop and implement a food safety curriculum in two formats:  an interactive online program as well as in-person workshops.

woman cooking iwth child

The Massachusetts Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is part of a national effort to improve the nutrition and health of low-income families with young children.