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The Food Friends

      The Food Friends. Colorado State University. 2010, Colorado State University Extension, 1311 South College Ave–University Square Bldg, Fort Collins, CO 80523-4040. Available at no cost at http://www.foodfriends.org. Accessed July 10, 2013.
      “Welcome to Healthadelphia!” declares the home page of The Food Friends, a research-based, 2-pronged early childhood program that uses food tasting and play to expose children ages 3–5 years to new foods and enhance their gross motor skills. The 12-week program called Fun With New Foods, and its companion physical activity program, Get Movin' With Mighty Moves, were developed by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, and the Colorado Health Foundation with input from children, teachers, and parents. Nutrition, child development, health promotion and exercise science specialists, and occupational therapists also provided feedback during program design. The Food Friends programs aim to establish healthy habits at an early age as a preventive measure against the current epidemic of overweight and obesity and its attendant risks for chronic disease later in life.
      This colorful online resource provides age-appropriate activities for use in center- or family-based early care settings, as well as for parents at home. Free resources in English and Spanish include parent handouts, kid-friendly recipes, and newsletters covering family meals, new food introduction, role modeling, and the division of mealtime tasks based on Ellyn Satter's work.
      Program evaluation tools are downloadable, and a Classroom kit and Child Care Mini-kit including puppets, books, teacher guides, activity cards, posters, tote bag, hands-on play materials, and music are available for order. The site offers connectivity through social media and encourages participating sites to submit pictures, articles, and testimonials. The school-to-home connection is strong and viable based on the use of community-based participatory research in its development.
      The site is well organized and fairly easy to navigate after registering as a user. Handouts are accessible for download, and logging in to online training will become available in the near future.
      Users need the most recent version of Adobe Flash Player to “meet” the 7 vegetable and fruit cartoon characters used by the program. Each food group is represented, although some foods may be unfamiliar to children, particularly the daikon radish and okra. The Food Friends Web site provides links to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and Choose My Plate sites as further resources.
      Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior readers who work with early care educators can use this program because it is evidence based, well-developed, piloted, and evaluated.
      Cite this article as Brill MF. The Food Friends [Educational Material Review]. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2014;46:88.e3.