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Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail Initiative, National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), Scholastic, and Gerber expand “Meal Time is Talk Time” partnership to promote children’s early health & language development

National partners join together to reach U.S. families about the importance of quality learning time
between parents, caregivers, and children during everyday moments

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Too Small to Fail and the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) have partnered with Scholastic and Gerber to distribute over 75,000 nutrition-themed children’s books through NBCDI affiliates across the country. This national “Meal Time is Talk Time” partnership promotes simple actions like talking, reading, and singing with children from birth during everyday moments, such as grocery shopping, meal, and snack times.

On Monday, Nov. 5, we will celebrate this partnership at a read aloud and book distribution event with children and families served by NBCDI’s Mid-Hudson Affiliate and Dr. Kathleen Farrell,  Poughkeepsie Interim Superintendent of Schools. Robert Rolison, Poughkeepsie Mayor, and Board of Education President Dr. Felicia Watson will also be in attendance.

This celebration will feature Anna W. Bardaus, the author of Munch! Crunch! Snacks & Lunch, who will lead a read aloud of the book and some fun, hands-on nutrition activities with the children. Anna’s book is one of the books NBCDI is distributing through affiliates. At the event, each family will receive a copy of the book, along with other Too Small to Fail nutrition- and literacy-themed resources. Each book features Too Small to Fail’s central message on the back cover to help families engage in language-rich interactions about healthy foods during everyday moments and promote mealtime conversations.

 “We know how critical the early years are and the powerful role caregivers, educators, and parents play in young children’s early brain and language development,” said Jane Park Woo, Deputy Director of Too Small to Fail. “Our aim is to make small moments big between parents, educators, and young children through activities like talking, reading, and singing. We’re thrilled to work with NBCDI, Gerber, and Scholastic to provide families with opportunities where these moments can happen more often.”

“Meal Time is Talk Time” is part of a broader national public awareness and action campaign called “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing.” Working with partners in more than 16 communities across the country, as well as alongside publishers, popular TV and media partners, Too Small to Fail is focused on meeting parents where they are—providing them with tips and resources to engage with their children in meaningful interactions—whether they are going to the doctor’s office, the local laundromat, the grocery store, or the playground.

According to NBCDI’s Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor report series, “Seventy-nine percent of Black children between the ages of three and five are read to by their family members three or more times a week,” said Tobeka G. Green, President and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI).  “We remain committed to our work to improve outcomes for young children of color through strengths-based resources that reflect their families, cultures, and communities. Engaging in daily routines, such as mealtime and bedtime, presents an optimal opportunity to foster children’s learning and development.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with Too Small to Fail, Gerber, and Scholastic throughout this initiative while amplifying the rich cultural and linguistic strengths of our families.” 

Books and supplementary tip sheets with suggestions for hosting a thematic family engagement event were distributed through NBCDI’s National Affiliate Network and Good for Me! health and wellness program in 17 Affiliate communities from coast to coast, including Albany, Charlotte, Nashville, New York City, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, DC. With support from the Walmart Foundation, NBCDI’s Good for Me! program serves as a key component of their national initiative to promote culturally relevant, healthy nutrition and fitness practices among Black children, families, and communities.

With support from Gerber, more than 100,000 new nutrition-themed children’s books have been distributed through this partnership since it launched in 2016. Last year’s free book, At the Farmers Market will be supplemented by this year’s selection, Munch! Crunch! Snacks & Lunch.  

“Gerber is pleased to support families with these books,” said Wendy Johnson, Vice President of Nutrition, Health and Wellness at Gerber. “We understand the early years are not only critical for reading but also important for establishing good nutritional habits. The partnership with NBCDI, Too Small to Fail and Scholastic allows us to focus on both behaviors in a subtle, engaging way that resonates with families.”  

Research shows that simple, everyday interactions with young children—such as describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories—can build their vocabularies, prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning. The first three years of life are the most critical for vocabulary development, because the brain is best able to absorb language during this period. Early language development is also a strong predictor of future critical developmental milestones, including school readiness and reading at grade level in third grade. Recent studies show that both the amount and quality of communication between children and their parents and caregivers are critical to building children’s language skills during the early years.

“We saw in the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™ that the top reason parents and children like reading aloud is that it is a special time they get to spend together,” said Greg Worrell, President, Scholastic Education. “By meeting families where they are with increased access to books and other resources, we’re able to see firsthand the power that reading can have to foster growth and curiosity, especially for our youngest learners. We’re honored to continue our important work with Too Small to Fail, the National Black Child Development Institute, and Gerber to reach families at home and help create these special moments through reading.”

In addition to the national book distribution campaign, Too Small to Fail partnered with Spotify on a specially curated “Meal Time is Talk Time” playlist that includes songs about healthy foods and prompts suggesting tips for language-rich activities and conversation starters that parents can share with their children in between songs.

For additional information or to download resources, please visit: http://talkingisteaching.org/mealtime.


About Clinton Foundation

Building on a lifetime of public service, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation on the simple belief that everyone deserves a chance to succeed, everyone has a responsibility to act, and we all do better when we work together. For nearly two decades, those values have energized the work of the Foundation in overcoming complex challenges and improving the lives of people across the United States and around the world. 

As an operating foundation, the Clinton Foundation works on issues directly or with strategic partners from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors to create economic opportunity, improve public health, and inspire civic engagement and service. Our programs are designed to make a real difference today while serving as proven models for tomorrow. The goal of every effort is to use available resources to get better results faster – at the lowest possible cost.

We firmly believe that when diverse groups of people bring resources together in the spirit of true cooperation, transformative ideas will emerge to drive life-changing action.

Learn more at http://www.clintonfoundation.org, on Facebook at Facebook.com/ClintonFoundation, and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.


About Too Small to Fail

Too Small to Fail, an early childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation, promotes early brain and language development by supporting parents and caregivers with tools to talk, read and sing with their young children from birth. Today, almost 60 percent of children in the United States start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language and reading skills. Through partnerships with pediatricians, hospitals, faith-based leaders, community-based organizations, businesses, entertainment industry leaders and others, Too Small to Fail is meeting parents where they are to help them prepare their children for success in school and beyond. Whether at the pediatrician's office or the playground, Too Small to Fail aims to make small moments big by creating opportunities for meaningful interactions anytime, anywhere.

Learn more at www.toosmall.org. Find resources for parents and caregivers at www.talkingisteaching.org or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/2smalltofail), Twitter (@2SmalltoFail), and Instagram (www.Instagram.com/2smalltofail).


Established in 1970, the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) is a national nonprofit organization with a mission “to improve and advance the quality of life for Black children and families through education and advocacy.”

With our National Affiliate Network, we develop and deliver strengths-based, culturally relevant, evidence-based, and trauma-informed curricula and programs focused on health and wellness, family engagement, and early literacy. We also support increased access to effective education by providing professional development scholarships to early childhood educators. NBCDI, our National Affiliate Network, and our members advocate for and inform education policies at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure standards, regulations, and resource allocations support equitable systems for Black children and families across the country.

Learn more at www.nbcdi.org. Follow us on Twitter (@NBCDI), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nbcdi/), or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/nbcdi1/).

About Gerber
Gerber Products Company was founded in 1928 in Fremont, Mich. Gerber joined the Nestlé family on September 1, 2007. Gerber is a leader in early childhood nutrition. At Gerber, research informs everything we do – from the products we make, the nutrition education we deliver and the services we offer. Gerber provides resources from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) for health care professionals at Medical.Gerber.com and for parents at Gerber.com.

About Scholastic

Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, a leading provider of core literacy curriculum and professional services, and a producer of educational and entertaining children's media. The Company creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning programs for pre-K to grade 12, classroom magazines and other products and services that support children's learning and literacy both in school and at home. With operations in 14 international offices and exports to 165 countries, Scholastic makes quality, affordable books available to all children around the world through school-based book clubs and book fairs, classroom collections, school and public libraries, retail and online. True to its mission of 98 years to encourage the personal and intellectual growth of all children beginning with literacy, the Company has earned a reputation as a trusted partner to educators and families. Learn more at www.scholastic.com.