UM-Flint Early Childhood Program Offers Families Nutrition Resources

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Attendees learned quick tips and recipes about nutrition.

Flint families with young children packed the hallways at Cummings School Thursday afternoon, browsing vendor tables, eating a healthy meal together in the gym, and enjoying the Great Expectations program’s first major community event called “Let’s Eat the Alphabet.”

The community health and wellness resource fair brought together families who have children enrolled at Cummings and Holmes schools. Supported by Flint Schools and several local partners and donors, the two buildings host the University of Michigan-Flint’s Great Expectations early childhood programs. The programs provide hundreds of families with high-quality free early childhood care and education for kids impacted by the city’s water crisis.

Along with a delicious meal, learning activities, and free vision screenings, families sampled a variety of easy-to-make healthy snacks and were given brochures about nutrition and recipes to take home. Vendors also helped parents connect with local existing and expanding resources.

Chandra Brown with FoodCorps showed children how to plant seeds and care for a plant.

“The spirit of coming together with our community partners is so strong,” said Mary Lynn Gottler, Cummings site director, while greeting families. “They deserve a big thank-you.”

Families affected by lead-tainted water have especially been encouraged by medical and child care professionals alike to choose nutritious foods and to eat well-balanced meals that contain plenty of fruits and vegetables to help offset the effects of lead in the body.

As the event began, Hurley Children’s Center pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha briefly spoke to families in the school’s auditorium with her unshakable enthusiasm and support: “This school is a treasure in our community,” she said. “We are so lucky to have this. Thank you, families, for recognizing the importance of this program. In Flint, we are strong, we are smart, and we are creative, so watch out world.”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha spoke briefly to families at Cummings auditorium.

The fun event also served as a model of how community partners can easily collaborate with early childhood professionals to coordinate health and wellness services and educational opportunities that directly benefit the growth and development of young children.

“This program is a dream,” added Dr. Hanna-Attisha. “It’s exactly what our kids need, and now it’s here. One of the most important things for making kids healthy is providing a good early education.”

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