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Grants available for Wyoming childcare centers seeking to encourage physical activity, healthy eating

Mini grants encouraging physical activity and healthy eating habits are now available through the University of Wyoming Extension’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program.

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Mini grants for Wyoming childcare centers seeking to encourage physical activity and healthy eating habits are now available through the University of Wyoming Extension’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program.

From January through September, CNP will award 20 to 25 mini grants to childcare centers across the state. Grants are open to all licensed childcare centers in Wyoming.

Childcare centers can apply for up to $500 to purchase materials that improve nutrition and physical activity practices.

Funding is made possible by a partnership between 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 childcare centers to date. A second round of funding opened Jan. 23, 2023.

“Building healthy habits that last a lifetime starts during childhood and childcare centers can play an integral role in establishing these habits,” said CNP Director Mindy Meuli. “With this mini grant program, we aim to support childcare 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 their 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,” said Director Jennifer Winstisen. “Our students were using riding equipment that had three good tires and one bad, trikes that were bent, Cozy Coupes with no doors, 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 prepping nutritious meals on site.

“This mini grant improved the overall quality of my program,” said 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 childcare 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://bit.ly/ece-grants-2023.

Wyoming’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program serves people with limited resources through nutrition education and local partnerships that help make the healthy choice the easy choice. CNP is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Program and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.

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 who income qualify.

For more information, visit uwyocnp.org.