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Published January 31, 2023
Mini-grants for Wyoming child care centers seeking to encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits are now available through University of Wyoming Extension’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP).
From January through September 2023, CNP will award 20-25 mini-grants to child care centers across the state. Grants are open to all licensed child care centers in Wyoming. Child care centers can apply for up to $500 to purchase materials that improve nutrition and physical activity practices.
Funding is made possible by a partnership among CNP, the Maternal and Child Health Unit of the Wyoming Department of Health Public Health Division, and the Wyoming Head Start Collaboration Office through the Wyoming Department of Education.
Launched in summer 2022, the mini-grant program has funded 17 child care centers to date. A second round of funding opened Jan. 23.
“Building healthy habits that last a lifetime starts during childhood, and child care centers can play an integral role in establishing these habits,” says CNP Director Mindy Meuli. “With this mini-grant program, we aim to support child care centers in creating environments that encourage healthy childhood nutrition and physical activity practices, particularly those centers serving families with limited resources.”
In the first round of funding, many grant recipients applied for equipment designed to encourage physical activity in toddlers and preschoolers.
Through its mini-grant, Casper’s Excel Academy received new riding toys and trikes -- a big hit with the kids.
“The students of Excel Academy, as well as the staff, are extremely delighted to have the new equipment,” Director Jennifer Wistisen says. “Our students were using riding equipment that had three good tires and one bad, trikes that were bent and Cozy Coupes with no doors and cracks.”
Several centers also applied for materials to support nutrition and healthy eating, such as family-style dining setups, water bottles and kitchen equipment for preparing nutritious meals on-site.
“This mini-grant improved the overall quality of my program,” reports Sara Allison, director of Learning Safari Childcare in Green River. “I was able to purchase individual water bottles for each child and several large motor (skill) playsets to meet the two hours of active play goal during months that it’s too cold to play outside.”
CNP educators work with child care centers to explore best practices, identify areas for improvement and offer support throughout the application process. Applications are reviewed by staff in the CNP state office in Laramie, which then purchases and ships requested items.
For more information, visit https://uwyocnp.org/partner-resources/ece-mini-grants/.
About the Cent$ible Nutrition Program
Wyoming’s CNP serves people with limited resources through nutrition education and local partnerships that help make the healthy choice the easy choice. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program fund CNP.
CNP is available in every Wyoming county as well as the Wind River Indian Reservation and offers both in-person and online classes. Programming is free to those whose incomes qualify. For more information, visit www.uwyocnp.org.