Arlene Schnitzer: A Generous and Fearless Advocate for Children

Arlene Schnitzer: A Generous and Fearless Advocate for Children

Notable Oregon philanthropist Arlene Schnitzer, who passed away on April 4, 2020 at the age of 91, was perhaps best known for her lifetime of support for the arts. Arlene’s commitment to women’s health and children’s issues may be less recognized among the broader public, but at Children’s Institute, we are very aware of, and grateful for, this thread in her giving.

Gary Withers, Children’s Institute’s first president, co-founder, and long-time board member, worked with Arlene on many projects. “When CI was in its earliest stages, we had a meeting with Arlene to tell her about the project and ask for her support. And Arlene said, ‘Well, let’s just add up how much we’ve given annually and recently to causes related to children.’ And of course at that time, Harold and Arlene were well known for their support for OHSU and the arts. But we were adding up their contributions to causes just related to kids, and I’m not sure whether it was over one year or two or three years, but it was millions! And I sat there and I thought, Well this is the story that nobody knows.”

Arlene became a founding member of the Children’s Institute board, helping to shape the vision for work that improved the lives of many Oregon children and families. According to Withers, Arlene chose this work because “She loved the concept that if we invest in early childhood, that we would be able to avoid a lot of the downstream challenges that children face, particularly children with high adverse childhood experience scores. She was a believer in the power of mitigation that is inherent in great early childhood programming.”

CI’s Early Works initiative in particular meant a great deal to Arlene, as she knew it made a tangible difference for families. “She and Harold spent time visiting national models, but were committed to an approach that would engage with public schools and meet the specific needs of Oregon children,” recalls Adarkar.  

“Arlene and Harold had a really strong bond to this community,” says Barbara Hall, who worked with Arlene for 36 years, eventually becoming the executive director of The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation. “They were true Portlanders. They were both from immigrant families that came from Russia, and I think they were interesting because they were not raised with great wealth. They really earned that wealth, and they felt very strongly that this community was what allowed them to flourish. So they gave to every nonprofit in the city that they felt helped make the city a better place to live.”

Arlene was interested in improving quality of life, and she liked to be able to see the results. She felt that improving the lives of families was one of the surest ways to strengthen the community she felt so connected to. Her giving was pragmatic; she asked, “What project would have a direct impact on my neighbors?” and then she chose a leader she believed in, whose work was solving the problems she saw as important.  

Swati Adarkar, president and CEO of Children’s Institute, was one of those leaders, and enjoyed a special relationship with Arlene. “When we started CI,” Adarkar says, “I had no plan to become the executive director. I’d envisioned partnership, rather than a CEO. I had two young kids at the time. Arlene believed in mentoring and encouraging women to take leadership roles and helped build my confidence, because she was such a strong and fearless leader. I watched how she would pick her moments to strategically express her point of view and how effectively she could persuade those around her to be bolder and more courageous.” 

“Arlene put a lot of faith in Swati,” says Hall. “She really felt like CI’s work was the first thing Swati thought of when she woke up in the morning, and she probably noodled it until she fell asleep at night—what she wanted to do to make a difference, using Children’s Institute as the vehicle to help make that happen.”

Withers agrees. “Arlene had a level of trust and confidence in Swati and the mission and vision of Children’s Institute that allowed her to remain a very long-term investor even as the issues that Arlene faced with her health, and the complexity of the issues being addressed by Children’s Institute, began to eclipse what she could attend to personally.”

Adarkar deeply appreciates the trust. “Arlene was the kind of rare supporter who identified the issues she cared about and the people she trusted to move the work forward. She empowered me and the rest of CI staff to do what we knew needed to be done.”  

Generosity and the spirit of community will be such an important part of Arlene’s legacy. “As a philanthropist and as a person,” says Hall, “Arlene never met a problem that she didn’t want to try and help fix. Never. And I love that about her. She always had room for one more thing on her plate. That was probably what I loved about her the most. She was never numb to anything.”  

Withers echoed this sentiment: “Arlene had a way of making friends for life. It was her authenticity, and her integrity, and her candor. The word ‘philanthropy’ means love of humankind, and she had this huge heart that just really loved people.” 

At Children’s Institute, we hope our ongoing work is an expression of our gratitude to Arlene for her role in the development and health of our organization. We will miss her humor, warmth, sharp instincts, and commitment to making our state a more vibrant and healthy place to be a child.

Celebrating Good Neighbors

Celebrating Good Neighbors

Erin Helgren is the Early Works Site Liason based in Yoncalla, Oregon

Over the last few months, Yoncalla School District and Early Works have been working to prioritize an assets-based approach to community building and highlight districtwide innovations and approaches that are making a difference in the lives of children and families.

As a part of that effort, we introduced the Good Neighbor Award to honor community members who are demonstrating an exceptional commitment to the district’s children and families.

In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to interview non-traditional leaders like Sheryl and Richard Braun.

Fixtures in the community, I often refer to the Brauns as Yoncalla’s original Early Works program. Over many decades, the Brauns have, by their estimate, provided child care for nearly every kid in Yoncalla.

Dale and Robin Pritchett also have strong personal connections to Yoncalla. Through Christmas for Kids, the Pritchetts have provided countless gifts for children in need. Their generosity means that families can focus on the joys of holiday time rather than stress over finances.

Ms. Carol Robins, a first grade teacher, thinks outside the box to serve students and has been an early adopter of Conscious Discipline in her classroom.

Sheryl and Richard Braun, “Mr. and Mrs. Early Works”

Our latest recipient of the Good Neighbor Award is Carl Van Loon. Carl is an active member of the Yoncalla community. He makes sure that local families are able to access healthy food sources. He supports the school district in board leadership and alumni work. In addition, he directly impacts students through various coaching endeavors, in financial and resource support for extra-curricular activities, and through a scholarship in honor of his late son, James Ryan (J.R.).

Here’s an excerpt of the remarks I made at the ceremony we held on February 19:

Carl grew up in Scotts Valley with five older brothers, all of whom graduated from the Yoncalla School District in the 1960s-70s.

As a teenager he worked at the Yoncalla Store and the Drain Plywood Mill. After high school, he briefly worked in the woods, but eventually moved away to pursue a career in the grocery industry. He returned to Yoncalla in 2004 to purchase and run the current Yoncalla Food Center.

Carl joined the Yoncalla School Board about five years ago, determined to save the school district. He believed that children from Yoncalla would have less opportunity and perceived value if the school was to merge with neighboring districts. 

In addition, Carl wanted to create a system of board transparency in order to ensure that the community fully understood the decisions being made by the school board. I believe he has been successful in co-creating a meeting structure in which the community feels welcome to share ideas, concerns, and thoughts.

Carl Van Loon, Good Neighbor Award Recipient 2020

A conversation with Carl would not be complete (or maybe even possible) without a lengthy conversation about the sports program.

Carl credits the Yoncalla School District sports program, paired with the expectations of his father, with his graduation from high school and his strong and determined work ethic. Here’s what I came to learn about Carl and his focus on sports:

Sports programming isn’t about the actual success or physical abilities of students; it isn’t about an all-star team or winning state championships. For a small district, sports are about literally leveling the playing field, modeling and lifting up invaluable life lessons and giving every child the skill sets that impact decision-making and attributes that serve them throughout their lives.

We talked about the power of a positive role model through high-quality coaching, the idea of creating a sense of community through cultivating a cohesive, interdependent team; the sense of purpose a child feels on a team, even if they may not possess strong athletic skills. The value of hard work, perseverance and grace—both when winning and losing—the skill of composure when things don’t work out as expected, and the value of acceptance of diverse skill sets and abilities in overall team success.

From Carl, I learned that sports are not about the actual outcome, but the process of building trusting relationships, a safe environment for all students to succeed and to push themselves beyond their self-imposed limitations.

Through countless, selfless acts of kindness, and enduring leadership, he has made our school district a better place for children.

 

What’s Changed for Kids In Oregon this Year

What’s Changed for Kids In Oregon this Year

Thanks to the many partners we worked with this year and the contributions of countless supporters like you, we’ve been able to make significant progress toward our goal of ensuring all children in Oregon have access to high-quality early care and education. This year, we are particularly proud of our collective work to:

  • Pass the Student Success Act, an historic investment in Oregon’s children
  • Develop incentives that will reward our health system for providing critical services to young children
  • Implement Universally Offered Home Visiting
  • Introduce Early School Success, our new initiative to better align the early years and early grades

Click through the slide show below to see what’s changed for young kids in Oregon this year. Scroll down further for a thematic overview of this year’s coverage and to learn about two things you can do today to contribute to this important work!

At Birth: A Welcome Visit

All new families in Oregon will soon have the option to receive home visiting services thanks to state legislators and early childhood advocates who made this voluntary, evidence-based program a priority in 2019.

For Infants & Toddlers: Available, Affordable Care

As we continue to shine a spotlight on the state’s child care crisis, the demand for safe, affordable care grows stronger.  In 2020, we’ll work with the Child Care Task Force and others to make this vision a reality.

For Young Kids: Health Sets the Stage

In 2019, we helped demonstrate the connection between health and early learning, working with partners to bolster innovative efforts that support school readiness. We also worked with advocates to secure full funding for early intervention and early childhood special education.

For Ages 3-4: High-Quality Preschool

With the passage of the Student Success Act in 2019, more children in Oregon will have access to high-quality early learning programs. In 2020, we’ll focus on ensuring these public investments are well-spent.

For Kids 5 and Up: Seamless Elementary Transitions

In 2019, we began working with school districts to ensure children have a seamless educational experience from preschool through fifth grade. In 2020, we’ll continue to innovate with school communities to boost high-quality instruction from the ground up.

2019 Year in Review

 

At Birth: A Welcome Visit

All new families in Oregon will soon have the option to receive home visiting services thanks to state legislators and early childhood advocates who made this voluntary evidence-based program a priority in 2019.

Here’s a sampling of our coverage on this topic:

 

For Infants & Toddlers: Available, Affordable Child Care

As we continue to shine a spotlight on the state’s child care crisis, demand for safe, affordable care that serves all families grows stronger.  In 2020, we’ll work with the Child Care Task Force and others to make this vision a reality.

Here’s a sampling of our coverage on this topic:

 

For Young Kids, Health Sets the Stage

In 2019, we helped demonstrate the connection between health and early learning, working with partners and other advocates to bolster innovative efforts that support this vital aspect of school readiness. We also worked with advocates to secure full funding for early intervention and early childhood special education.

Here’s a sampling of our coverage on this topic:

 

For Ages 3-4: High-Quality Preschool

With the passage of the Student Success Act, more young children across the state will have access to high-quality early learning programs. In 2020, we’ll focus on ensuring these public investments are well-spent.

Here’s a sampling of our coverage on what a high-quality classroom experience looks like, as well as more detail on efforts to expand preschool access to all children in Multnomah County.

 

For Kids 5 and Up: Seamless Elementary Transitions

In 2019, we began working with school districts to ensure children have a seamless educational experience from preschool through fifth grade. In 2020, we’ll continue to innovate with school communities to boost high-quality instruction from the ground up.

Here’s a sampling of coverage on our new initiative, Early School Success, and the transformational power of community leadership and action.

 

Video: Early Works at Earl Boyles: The Power of Partnership

Video: Early Works at Earl Boyles: The Power of Partnership

Kids begin learning before they’re even born. By the time children start kindergarten, their brains are already 90 percent developed. Children’s Institute believes our education system can do more for kids during this critical period of development. Neighborhood schools can serve children long before they enter kindergarten and provide meaningful support to parents and families before and during elementary school.

Our Early Works initiative demonstrates what happens when school districts, community partners, parents, and funders come together with a shared vision to support the early learning and healthy development of young children: Kids arrive at kindergarten ready to learn, parents feel welcome at the school and empowered to support their children’s learning, and the school community flourishes.

 

 

Located in the David Douglas School District in Southeast Portland, Oregon, Earl Boyles Elementary School is one of two Early Works sites.

The school serves a culturally and linguistically diverse group of low-income families. Through our comprehensive, community-based Early Works initiative, Earl Boyles now offers high-quality preschool, an Early Kindergarten Transition program, summer literacy programs, infant-toddler play and learn groups, a food pantry, and connections to housing and health care supports.

Since 2010, children at Earl Boyles have improved their kindergarten readiness and parents have become leaders in the community and empowered participants in their children’s learning. Going forward, Early Works aims to increase participation in 0–3 play groups and support children’s learning at home, ensuring all children in the area are ready for preschool and beyond.

Many partners, including the David Douglas School District, Mt. Hood Community College Head Start, and Multnomah Early Childhood Program, have come together to provide high-quality early learning programs and supports starting at birth, parenting education to engage families, and health supports and other social services for families.

Other partners also operate within the school, supporting early learning, engaging families, and offering health supports and other social services:

  • Children’s Book Bank
  • Home Forward
  • Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)
  • Latino Network
  • Metropolitan Family Services (MFS)
  • Mt. Hood Community College Head Start
  • Multnomah County Library
  • Multnomah Early Childhood Program (MECP)
  • Padres Unidos (Parents United)
  • Reading Results
  • SMART (Start Making a Reader Today)

As a community-driven initiative, Early Works must continue to be responsive to the needs of a diverse and changing population. Too many children from linguistically diverse backgrounds continue to enter preschool at Earl Boyles with low language skills, and too many families struggle to access the resources they need to support learning at home.

In the next phase of the initiative, we will deepen our work in early health and reduce academic disparities through culturally responsive teaching and learning from preschool through fifth grade.

The Path to the Student Success Act

The Path to the Student Success Act

This year, Oregon passed the Student Success Act: a new annual $1 billion public investment in education. Twenty percent of this budget—nearly $200 million per year—will go toward early childhood programs and services. This new funding is in addition to existing allocations to early childhood, roughly doubling the state’s commitment to programs and services for kids under 6.
Speaking at the City Club of Portland, House Speaker Tina Kotek credited these historic investments to the determined efforts of advocates over many years. Those efforts included educating lawmakers on the connections between early childhood experiences and future academic success.

Lawmakers Won’t Fund What They Don’t Understand

Students in preschool classes at Earl Boyles (above) and Yoncalla Elementary Schools (below).

The profound cognitive, social, and emotional experiences children have in the first five years of their lives set the foundation for all future learning. “If we want to improve health and education outcomes in Oregon, we need to ensure all kids have equitable access to high-quality early care and education,” says Swati Adarkar, president and CEO here at Children’s Institute. “Lawmakers need to understand the connection between the early years and long-term academic success. We work alongside partner organizations around the state to make that case.”

Making the case takes more than presenting decades of research on the long-term benefits of high-quality early education. In 2010, we launched the Early Works initiative to demonstrate the impact of combining high-quality preschool with other supports like infant and toddler play and learn groups, health care and housing supports, and parenting education.

Adarkar explains: “Our Early Works sites at Earl Boyles and Yoncalla Elementary Schools have served as learning laboratories. Lawmakers and educators can see firsthand what happens when families and schools meaningfully partner together to make sure kids get high-quality early childhood experiences.”

Working Together, Advocates Delivered a Consistent Message

Educating lawmakers on the importance of early childhood was only the first step. Because we’re still in the process of developing a comprehensive system for children under 6, it’s not possible to “invest in early childhood” in the same way the state invests in K–12 education. Instead, lawmakers needed to determine which programs and services to fund, and how much money to give them.

The nearly 40 advocacy organizations in Oregon’s Early Childhood Coalition (ECC) played a key role in helping legislators make those determinations. Dana Hepper, our director of policy and advocacy, helped lead the coalition, which formed in December 2017. “The investments in early childhood that were ultimately included in the Student Success Act were based on recommendations developed by the ECC. We worked together over six months to determine which programs and services needed to be funded and at what levels, educate lawmakers about their impact, and engage Oregonians to support the investments,” Hepper explains. Thanks to Governor Brown’s leadership leading up to the 2019 session, the ECC was able to use investments in early childhood included in the governor’s recommended budget, released in November of 2018, as a starting point for their legislative agenda.

Speaker Kotek echoed the importance of this advance work to determine the coalition’s priorities. “Success [in the legislature] is grounded in the hours and hours of work that are done even before the session starts in January,” she told attendees of the City Club’s Friday Forum last month. “Education experts consistently told us that more resources for early childhood education were necessary if every student were to be able to succeed.”

The consistency of the message was key. “The ECC was successful because we aligned our efforts by aligning our missions,” says Cara Copeland, executive director of the Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries. “When early childhood providers work and fundraise in isolation, they lose sight of the fact that families raising young children need a variety of supports in order to thrive. A family may receive support from a Relief Nursery to help build their protective capacity, but after that child leaves our therapeutic classroom the parent must still have affordable child care and a plan for quality preschool.”

The ECC’s requested investments in Relief Nurseries, Early Head Start, parenting education, Oregon Pre-Kindergarten, Preschool Promise, Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education, an Early Childhood Equity Fund, and opportunities for the early childhood workforce were all included in the Student Success Act.

ECC recommendations to fund the universal voluntary home visiting program “Family Connects” and launch a task force to address Oregon’s child care crisis were also passed by the legislature this year in separate bills.

Parents and Educators Spoke, and Lawmakers Listened

Evidence-based policy recommendations on their own are never enough to sway lawmakers, especially when it comes to allocating record amounts of money. To pass the Student Success Act, legislators needed to hear from those most impacted: parents and educators. When the Joint Committee for Student Success (JCSS), co-chaired by Senator Roblan and Representative Smith Warner, announced their state-wide listening tour to formulate a plan to improve education in Oregon, the ECC pushed for early learning sites to be included.

The JCSS sought to understand Oregon’s education crisis: the state ranks 49th in the nation for high school graduation, has the fourth-worst chronic absenteeism rate, and is in the midst of a behavioral crisis. “Research shows that all of these issues are tied to early childhood experiences,” explains Danielle Pacifico-Cogan, our director of community affairs. “But stories from real people have a bigger impact than statistics. When lawmakers visited early learning sites, they were able to hear directly from parents who want and need high-quality early care and education for their young children.” Members of the JCSS reported to Speaker Kotek that this listening tour was one of the highlights of their legislative careers.

“The message they heard was consistent across the state: early childhood services and programs deliver huge benefits, but many families don’t have access to them,” Pacifico-Cogan says. Thirty-thousand children living in low-income families in Oregon currently lack access to high-quality preschool; child care in the state is just as scarce.

In addition to bringing lawmakers into early learning settings, the Early Childhood Coalition brought supporters to Salem for Early Childhood Lobby Day. Over the course of the day, nearly 150 parents, educators, child care providers, and advocates met with 63 state lawmakers to voice their support for the coalition’s agenda.

Amanda Manjarrez, director of advocacy for Latino Network, participated in small group meetings between constituents and lawmakers throughout the day.

“Lawmakers hear from me all the time about the need to fund culturally specific early childhood programs. On Lobby Day they heard from providers who need these resources to close opportunity gaps for children of color and dual language learners. They met parents who want access to programs like Juntos Aprendemos that equip Spanish-speaking parents and kids with the skills they need to succeed.” The Student Success Act includes $20 million over two years for an Early Childhood Equity Fund dedicated to culturally specific early learning services.

The coalition also engaged supporters who couldn’t make it to Salem. Attendees of two screenings of the early childhood documentary No Small Matter wrote postcards to their senators in support of early childhood investments; hundreds of other voters sent emails. All of this was part of the ECC strategy to enable constituents from across the state—particularly those represented by members of the JCSS—to share their lived experiences with lawmakers, and to support these stories with data. The end result: lawmakers learned that in Oregon—like in many other parts of the country—there is broad support for funding for early childhood.

Early Investments Have Long-Term Impacts

This year’s historic investments in early childhood followed years of research, innovative initiatives, partnerships, and community engagement. Following the announcement that opponents of the bill will no longer be working to refer it to the ballot, this funding is now one step closer to reaching critical early childhood programs and services. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to work with our ECC partners to share personal stories from across Oregon about the impact of early health and learning. We’ve seen how important the voices of parents, educators, and health care providers are, and we’re committed to making sure they get heard. If you’d like to add your voice to this movement, use the link below to share with us why early childhood matters to you.

Building Healthy Communities from the Inside Out

Building Healthy Communities from the Inside Out

At Earl Boyles Elementary in Southeast Portland, the intoxicating aroma of Cindy Bahn’s chow mein is filling the school’s community room kitchen. She’s tossing out cooking tips as she stir fries heaping piles of noodles, vegetables, and shrimp.

Over the last six weeks of the school year, Community Ambassadors, or Embajadores de la Comunidad, have been cooking and sharing with one another during a “Recipes Around the World” series. Doing so has helped to strengthen the connections among the parent leaders who serve and represent the school’s diverse students and families.

Cooking workshops also meet the community’s request for more nutrition information and cooking skills. Food for the workshops primarily comes from the Earl Boyles food pantry, where many families receive food supports each week.

Earl Boyles students speak 30 different home languages and about 80 percent come from low-income households. The Community Ambassador program began in 2012 as a way to increase family engagement. Since then, it has stretched to accommodate a broader range of needs, driven by the community it serves and that its members are a part of.

It’s been an awesome opportunity to step up and show my kids that they can do whatever they want.

Josette Herrera

Community Ambassador and Community Health Worker, Earl Boyles Elementary

Cindy Bahn in the community kitchen at Earl Boyle’s Elementary

Anyone in the Earl Boyles community—not just parents—can apply to be an ambassador. Once accepted into the program, volunteer ambassadors can pursue a range of trainings that help them to assist parents and families, including how to administer developmental screenings to children, help parents navigating LGBTQ issues, aid those who may be victims of domestic violence, or help community members experiencing housing insecurity.

“It’s been an awesome opportunity to step up and show my kids that they can do whatever they want,” ambassador Josette Herrera explained, emphasizing that the benefits of the program are personal to those who volunteer.

Sharing their Knowledge on Health 

Increasingly, ambassadors have found themselves at the center of an expanding focus on health.

As understanding of the connection between health and later life outcomes has grown, so has the commitment among ambassadors to support the healthy development of the children and families at Earl Boyles and beyond. The most popular training opportunity for Community Ambassadors has been a 90-hour Community Health Worker training.

In April, Josette Herrera and two other ambassadors with Community Health Worker certification—Adriana Govea and Maria Espino—made the 2.5-hour drive to rural Douglas County. The three women shared their experiences as Community Health Workers with parents at Yoncalla Elementary School. Earl Boyles and Yoncalla are both learning laboratories in Children’s Institute’s Early Works initiative.

Govea was a volunteer and resource for her community even before she took the training to become a Community Health Worker. She described how the training she went through improved her confidence in her abilities to respond to community requests for help.

 

I feel fine to go to the clinics with my clients, or to the hospital. Because I can say ‘I’m a Community Health Worker.’  I have the confidence to navigate for my clients.

Adriana Govea

Community Ambassador and Certified Community Health Worker, Earl Boyles Elementary

Community Ambassadors (in blue shirts L to R) Josette Herrera, Adriana Govea, and Maria Espino on their visit to Yoncalla.

Community members from Yoncalla’s Early Works program listened to Earl Boyles Community Ambassadors discuss their experiences as Community Health Workers. 

Parent-to-Parent Connection

While Yoncalla may seem worlds apart from the more urban setting their visitors call home, the concept of families helping other families was nothing new. Sharing a common culture, language, or life experience helps foster an environment where parents can feel comfortable seeking advice or assistance.

“It would be easier for some parents to communicate with [other parents],” about personal issues, Tracey Lancour, a grandparent in Yoncalla explained.

Attendees at the meeting were enthusiastic about the prospect of receiving training to help others in the community. They spoke about urgent community needs like supporting parents of children with disabilities, those suffering from mental health issues, or struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

Families you deal with don’t care what you know,  until they know that you care.

Mike Grimes

Grandparent, Yoncalla Elementary School

Community Based Participatory Research

Ambassadors from Earl Boyles have also played key roles in several research projects, including a recent community-based pilot research study on preschooler eating habits conducted by OHSU-PSU School of Public Health.

Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) seeks to empower community members as partners in health research. OHSU-PSU Associate Professor Betty Izumi thanked Earl Boyle’s ambassadors and community members who helped to design, implement, interpret, and present the results.

She noted that 89 percent of the mother-child pairs who initially signed up ended up participating in the study. “That’s tremendously high,” she said, much higher than the follow through for many clinical trials. Izumi credited the ability of community members to serve as cultural brokers between families and researchers.

CBPR approaches have also been credited for helping to create health recommendations or interventions that are more readily accepted and understood by their research communities.

Back in the community kitchen at Earl Boyles, the atmosphere is celebratory.

Group members prepare to indulge in a buffet of culinary contributions from around the world—a delicious celebration and reflection of all they have contributed to their communities this year.

Community members took an active role in a pilot study on preschooler eating habits. 

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