Up for a Trade? A Cup of Joe for a Day of Meals…

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Did you know that the price you pay for one cup of coffee from your local coffee shop could provide three healthy meals for a Mainsprings kid?!

Here at Mainspring Schools we have a different approach to our program. We not only provide top quality early education to our students , we also focus on our parenting program to help our parents with home and job skills. We also provide farm to table fresh meals for our kiddos every meal, every day! We teach our kids early the importance of healthy eating. We encourage you to come visit us during lunch to see and feel the importance of these healthy meals. It makes your heart smile to see a 3-year old pile his plate full of salad and fresh fruit.

Would you be up to forgoing a cup of coffee to help us feed farm fresh meals to children who really need it? I know I’m up for it! 

Join us in our mission to provide every student three healthy meals each day. Schedule your Amplify Austin donation today!


What do the parents say?

Once a month, Mainspring hosts a Parent Supper. At the most recent, parents were the teachers! Groups worked together to answer 4 Questions and then took turns reading their responses to the entire room. It was wonderful evening; parents were really engaged and shared some great advice. Here’s what they came up with: List Some Parenting Tips You’ve Learned at Mainspring • Make sure physical needs are met. (Hunger, sleep) • Read! Read! • Every moment is a teachable moment…to teach them teamwork, responsibility, language • Get down to their eye level when talking to them • Important to have a consistent routine so they know what to expect. • Build in some “Mommy Time” to keep your sanity. Teach your kids some self-directed activities • Keep your kids active! • Ignore what you can ignore • Pick your battles • Teach them to take one “Thank You Bite” at dinner…as thanks to the cook. • Increase their activity to get them to sleep easier • Give them freedom to choose; use more positive discipline • Every child is different and needs to be treated accordingly • Patience is key! • Learned to understand physical needs (and how they affect behavior)

What Have You Learned About Food / Health / Sleep / Exercise? • All tied together: More activity → More Healthy Food → More Sleep • Serving sizes are much smaller than we realized • There are resources available to help parents • Turn the TV off one hour before bedtime / white noise while sleeping / keep room cool • Get them exercise spread throughout the day • Relation of screen time to sleep • Self-soothing; taking a break • Idea of going shopping together and cooking together. • Pick your battle with food…don’t force • Work out when the kids are playing (so you have extra energy later, too) • Get at least 8 hours of sleep…more for kids. • The brain develops during sleep • The sleep schedule is key. Don’t wait until they show they are tired; it’s too late. • Present healthy food as the meal, but not too many options. They will eat what is presented, but they’ll also seek choices, which may lead them astray.

What Do You Wish Were Different About Mainspring? • The parking. (Unanimous!) • Open later…traffic is hard to get through (3 comments) • Have a “date night” for parents. (One parent jokingly asked if dates were provided!) • Use “date nights” as a way to raise funds • Change the sand on the playground to coconut husks • Wish we had a crossing guard / parking attendant • Miss the Child Inc partnership • More guest speakers at Parent Supper • Wish every parent came to PAC and took advantage of the parent support

What Do You Love About Mainspring? • Teachers are amazing • Learning techniques are on the children’s level • Environment: You can reach out to the parents • How the children are introduced to healthy eating • The many volunteers • Teachers • Curriculum • Community • Support Staff • Food • Individual attention

- Rudi Andrus, Executive Director

America obsesses about food while ignoring hunger

Good nutrition is an essential part of Mainspring's program. In the clip below Tom Colicchio, renowned chef and "Top Chef" judge, and producer of the documentary "A Place at the Table", talks with Chris Hayes about hunger in America, food assistance programs, and the vital role nutrition plays in education. Clip courtesy of MSNBC's "Up With Chris Hayes". A short advertisement precedes the clip. The audio can be muted.

Getting parents to eat more vegetables - easier than you think

Reblogged from Nourish Interactive We all know that we need to eat more vegetables.  We, as parents, also know that we are key role models for kids and they are watching and learning from our behaviors.

According to the latest USDA guidelines, we should actually being filling half our plate with fruits and vegetables.  And actually a bit more vegetables than fruit ;-)

So how do we get ourselves to eat more vegetables!  That is a good question and this study may be the key with a pretty simple solution.

By adding more variety of vegetables to your meal, adults were more likely to eat more vegetables.  The study found that adults actually ate about 1/2 serving more of vegetables if there was a variety of vegetables.

Read the entire post: Getting parents to eat more vegetables-easier than you think.

Mainspring awarded USDA "Farm to Child Care" grant

We are happy to announce that we have been awarded the USDA’s Farm to Child Care grant again this year! The goal of this grant is to help children learn more about where their food comes from and how important it is to make good choices concerning our food and how it is produced.  The grant also incorporates the Team Nutrition initiative, which the USDA began to help families and schools teach about healthy eating and exercise.

Last year we were able to buy materials like posters and portion plates for the lunch room as well as start a farm delivery program where we get most of our fresh produce! The children were introduced to a lot of new tastes, not only from the farm but we also tried some exotic foods from around the world!

This year I hope to continue bringing new culinary experiences to our children and getting them excited about healthy food! Our chef Rachel has done an amazing job in the kitchen offering up creative, delicious meals with the vegetables she receives while keeping with the USDA’s guidelines on proper nutrition.

We will also be adding a few new activities to our nutrition initiative such as cooking classes and guest speakers for our parent suppers. We want to help not only our children learn about healthy eating and sustainable consumption but our community as well.

For more info visit the USDA’s Team Nutrition website and the Sustainable Food Center

- Brendan Wells, "Songbirds"

UPDATE: The "Farm to Childcare Grant" officially ends August 31, 2013 but Mainspring is committed to continuing the teaching and practice of healthy nutrition and sustainability, such as serving meals that include farm-fresh produce, on-site gardening, and learning units on healthy eating and where our food comes from.