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Jill Douglas

I’m here because of the kids

Whether it’s sitting on the floor with groups of toddlers to learn their opinion about peas and brussel sprouts or experimenting with creative ways to introduce healthy new food choices into children’s meals at the early childhood center where she works, Jill Douglas, 60, takes the time to make sure growing young minds and bodies learn about nutrition and eat because supporting children’s development is an act of love

What issues concern you on most days?

Jill believes that the nutrition of children makes a huge difference. “There is nothing worse than feeling hungry,” Jill says. “I cannot imagine a little tummy being empty. It’s important they have their well-balanced meal.” She also knows that there are a lot of statistics now a days about kids being overweight. Many parents of the kids she works with are young and grew up on fast food. “We are not shoveling processed foods or sugars into them,” Jill says. “They’re growing. They’re bodies. I get sick thinking of little bodies not eating healthy.

Do you usually prepare meals at home?

“Not so much,” Jill says. She tends to focus her meal preparation on the children at the early childhood center. She experiments with recipes, such as putting squash and garbanzo beans in soups and steaming and seasoning shredded cabbage. She prepares a full monthly menu for the children, which includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. How do you stay involved in advocating for better services even when life is already full of challenges? Jill feels fortunate that Square One promotes nutrition. “I have a budget, but they don’t restrict me,” she says. “I’m supported in trying. Fresh fruits in the summer, trying things like hummus. The kids even have a small garden in the spring.”

Why is it important to be involved?

Jill loves kids and wants to make sure that they are being fed nutritious foods regularly. She has been working with Square One since 1983 and feeds about 170 children, aged anywhere from 2.9 years old to five years old. “My whole goal is to serve things that I know they will eat,” Jill says. “Experiment Introduce and reintroduce.”