$40,000 grant will let Florence child care center teach gardening, food lessons | Local News

STAFF REPORTS

FLORENCESC — McLeod Child Development Center on Friday afternoon scored a two-for-one when it was donated $40,000 as part of being a Grow Outdoors SC Demonstration Site and was named a Child Care Heroes site.

This grant will go to site enhancements to improve the play area in addition to adding a garden where children can learn about growing fruits and vegetables.

“Today we’re receiving a grant from the State of South Carolina for $40,000 to enhance our outdoor play space for children to be able to move freely, to lean about growing fruits and vegetables and to have an opportunity to learn across all domains, be away from screens,” said Kimrey-Ann Haughn, administrator of the center..

“They’re going to plant lots of gardens, they’re going to have areas to sit, places to be active. They’re going to have outdoor kitchens, mud kitchens, earth play with dirt and things,” Haughn said.

The center has been part of the state program for a while and serves as a site where other day care providers can learn about programs.

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“About 10 years ago we applied to join a program the state was offering to be a demonstration site for child care centers for our area. They chose Florence because of childhood obesity and our incidence of preventable childhood diseases,” the administrator said.

With the money in hand there will be decisions to make — like what to plant.

“We’re going to let the children lead that direction, what they want to plant,” Hughn said.

That said, there are some plans already in place.

“We have some raised beds up here. We have pear trees up here, we’re going to add some blueberry bushes, a few apple trees, and we have some fig bushes over here we want to add to,” Haughn said.

There will be some cooking activities that will serve as education for the children and the parents.

“We’ve had opportunities for kids to learn to shuck corn and shell peas and those kids took their vegetables home and said they wanted to cook these peas,” Hughn said.

The center was also named a Child Care Hero site by ABC Quality, a branch of state government.

“ABC Quality, due to the pandemic, all the other heroes are being recognized. Our childhood community is so valuable, they’re helping essential workers and families and so we started a campaign of recognizing child care heroes,” said Sherrie Dueno with ABC Quality.

A site can be nominated by a parent, a community member or an employee, Dueno said.

In this case, the award came with the grant.

In addition to the honor bestowed on the center, it came with a flag, a plaque and Child Care Heroes masks for the staff, Dueno said.

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