Caron Gremont founded First Bites to help teach preschoolers about healthy fruits and vegetables from an early age. The organization promotes healthy eating as an early development life skill, with the goal of changing the culture of childhood nutrition.
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
I’ve worked in the food and nutrition world for much of my career and I’ve worked on childhood obesity issues before. When my oldest child started preschool, and I got a glimpse into both what she was being served as well as how little nutrition and culinary education preschool teachers receive, I realized there was a huge opportunity to make a difference in this space. The behaviors and attitudes of preschoolers, between the ages of 2 and 5, are still evolving and getting them excited about fruits and vegetables now gives them a strong foundation for the future.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
At First Bites, we work with preschools to help them teach healthy eating habits as a life skill, like learning to read or share toys. We train teachers on both what to eat, or feed children, as well as how to feed them so they become competent eaters. We do this through a 10-week curriculum designed to help children become capable eaters as well as get them excited about enjoying fruits and vegetables. We also conduct ongoing outreach and education to families to reinforce what children are experiencing in the classroom.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
We have three Washington, D.C. area schools participating in our fall program. That’s more than 300 children and families, and almost 100 preschool teachers! Hundreds of children and teachers are getting a chance every week to touch, feel, smell and see fruits and vegetables as well as chop, blend and mash them into tasty recipes that they eat with their classes. And their families are getting support and inspiration to extend some of the experiences in the classroom to their homes.
Who is your role model in your work?
I have a list of friends, colleagues, and business leaders who all started with an idea they felt passionate about and turned it into something real and impactful. While that list certainly includes other experts in the food and nutrition world, I’m inspired by anyone who is brave enough to forge their own path and turn an idea into a business or organization that makes a difference. I keep the list on my laptop and read it every time I start to wonder if I’m crazy for trying to do this.
What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
I immigrated to the US when I was 4 years old. I remember the first time we went to the grocery store and my parents bought “Fruit Loops” thinking they had fruit in them. That happened once. My parents learned quickly that you have to pay attention to what you eat. My mother did most of the cooking and while I certainly had my share of Doritos and Skittles, by in large, we ate home cooked meals every day and I always took my lunch to school.
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Our own Zach Brooks speaks with a Leader each week to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Zach’s profile and contact him.