Posts Tagged ‘child care’

Kaiser Permanente – encouraging healthy school lunches since the FDR administration

posted on August 19, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

The Bo's'n's Whistle 1943-11-25

Children’s snack at Kaiser child care center, The Bo’s’n’s Whistle 11/25/1943.

As parents ramp up to send their children to school after a long, thriving summer, tips for guiding them to eat the right food is a popular topic. Kaiser Permanente recently produced a great article about healthy school lunches, but many people don’t know that the original Permanente Health Plan for World War II shipyard workers promoted healthy lunches for kids as well.

Among Henry J. Kaiser’s social benefit programs for his shipyard workers were the Child Service Centers. At the time these innovative facilities were the largest in the world, and took care of children of working parents from 18 months to six years. It cost 75 cents a day for one child and $1.25 for two. The Maritime Nursery for the Richmond (Calif.) yards opened June 1, 1943, and the centers in the Northwest yards in Oregon and Washington opened in late 1943.

The centers were under the direction of Dr. Lois Meek Stolz, former director of the Child Development Institute at Columbia University and a well-known authority on child care and training. Assisting her was James L. Hymes, Jr., former assistant state supervisor of nursery schools in New York. The importance of food and nutrition were seen as a key component in the program’s success. Hymes wrote:

Food influences behavior. Small children…have pounded into us in unforgettable ways that hungry people are irritable; that they fight more; that they cry easily; that they become destructive…Some children we have seen, hungrier still, have told us that hunger can make people placid, inactive, lethargic…

The Bo's'n's Whistle 1944-02-11

Parent picking up prepared meal at Kaiser child care center, The Bo’s’n’s Whistle 2/11/1944.

An article in The Bos’n’s Whistle (the weekly magazine for the Northwest shipyards) published November 5, 1943, mentioned their food program:

Mid-morning lunch consists of graham crackers and fruit juice, a regular part of the daily schedule for all children at 9:30 every morning. Meals are supervised by expert dietitians.

Time is always tight for working parents, so the Kaiser shipyards helped out. An article from The Bos’n’s Whistle from February 11, 1944, announced a program of ready-cooked meals for all day-shift workers at the Oregon and Swan Island shipyards. The meals were planned by an expert nutritionist. Upon ordering two days in advance, the meals could be picked up at the Child Care Centers.

Mrs. Eva Ball, Oregon Ship tool checker, arrives at the Child Care Center, collects her two children and her already-prepared main course for the family evening meal. Mrs. Margaret Tipton, assistant food supervisor, passes the ready-packed meal over the counter. Miss Sheldon, assistant nutritionist is at the window.

Good food. Part of Kaiser’s broad view of health since 1943.


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Healthy lifestyles: tough to achieve, worth the effort

posted on May 31, 2013

By Ginny McPartland, Heritage writer

Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest Region initiated its Freedom from Fat program in 1989. Exercise was an integral part of the healthy living program. This photo of Donna Dean, a Health Plan member, William Cooper, associate regional manager of the Northwest Region, and Chris Overton, health education staff member, appeared on the cover of the Spring 1989 Spectrum, a magazine for Kaiser Permanente employees.

Kaiser Permanente founding physician Sidney Garfield caught on early that changing people’s habits would have positive results for their health. Urging his patients to avoid accidents by following safety guidelines and eating right to avoid health problems was a no-brainer for Garfield. Everyone would be happier and healthier, and the need for costly medical care could be minimized.

Voila! Prepaid care with an emphasis on prevention. Garfield adopted this theme in 1933, and Kaiser Permanente leaders have held this as a predominant tenet ever since.

Garfield’s interest in nutrition and exercise programs for shipyard workers in the 1940s, multiphasic examinations (annual physicals) in the 1950s, data processing of patient records in the 1960s, health education centers in the 1970s and the Total Health Project in the 1980s all fed into the push to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent illness.

Newsletters in the World War II Kaiser shipyards constantly reminded workers to eat three square meals a day and avoid too much fat and sugar. “Are you starving?” one article asked. “You can be starved without being hungry. . . Are you aware: 24 million man-hours per month (nationally) are lost through minor illnesses preventable by better nutrition?”

‘Are You Starving’ article in the Oct. 6, 1944, issue of the Kaiser Richmond Shipyard newsletter Fore ‘N Aft. The message: Eat healthy food and stay fit.

The Kaiser child care centers served healthy meals, and parents could buy nutritious family dinners to take home when they collected their offspring at the end of the day. Shipyard management sponsored intramural sports teams to help workers blow off steam and stay fit.

Screening workers for unhealthy habits

In 1950 Dr. Garfield responded to labor leader Harry Bridges’ request for a preventive care screening program for the members of his longshoremen’s and warehousemen’s union. The examinations, union-mandated for all workers, highlighted lifestyle problems and educated the men on how to avoid heart disease and other chronic illness.

In the 1960s, the first computer technology recorded the examination results so physicians could track their patients’ progress electronically and identify trends that could aid in the care and treatment of other patients, even in subsequent decades.

The 1970s saw the debut of the health education centers in which patients could seek disease prevention information and partake in groundbreaking programs to help them maintain healthy lifestyles and a healthy weight. (This was the beginning of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Living centers that offer a myriad of programs designed to preserve good physical and mental health and help patients manage chronic conditions.)

Health appraisal gains momentum

Health appraisal programs were established in a number of Kaiser Permanente locations, and healthy members were encouraged to visit the clinic when they were well, not just when illness struck. They filled out questionnaires and discussed their health status with practitioners who tracked their lifestyles and gave advice on staying well.

The transparent woman was a prominent exhibit in the first Oakland Health Education Center. Instructors could light up various parts of the body and describe the functions for visitors to the center. This photo appeared on the cover of the Kaiser Permanente’s 1967 annual report.

In the 1980s, Dr. Garfield conducted the Total Health research project in which he expanded the health assessment theme and had new well members diverted to a Total Health Center in which the emphasis was on promoting healthy lifestyles.

In the 1990s, Kaiser Permanente researchers participated in studies to test the success of a dietary regimen meant to reduce blood pressure and help prevent heart attacks and strokes. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension approach called for a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry and nuts.

The participants who followed DASH experienced a significant reduction in 24-hour blood pressure. The others, who continued to eat red meat, sweets and sugary soda, saw no improvement in blood pressure. Following the study, the DASH approach became the basis of Kaiser Permanente’s teaching about the prevention of hypertension and related conditions.

Also in the 1990s, Kaiser Permanente physician Vincent Felitti discovered while running a health appraisal clinic in the San Diego area that some patients needed help overcoming childhood trauma before they could change unhealthy behavior. Felitti conducted the Adverse Childhood Experience study and urged the consideration of psychological as well as physical issues in assessing a patient’s ability to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Thriving in the 21st century

Kaiser Permanente offers a wide variety of healthy living classes at its facilities in all regions. Here, students enjoy an exercise class in Oakland, Calif.

In 2004 Kaiser Permanente launched its Thrive advertising campaign, which spotlighted the health plan’s continuing emphasis on healthy living to help patients stay well. In the 20-Teens, the organization gave birth to other behavior change modalities, including online healthy lifestyle programs, Healthy Eating and Active Living community programs and free classes open to the public.

In 2012, Kaiser Permanente launched “Every Body Walk!” a campaign to get literally everyone up on their feet to take the first small steps that can lead to success in achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Today, patients who choose to alter their habits to achieve better health can get help in Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Living classes, by enrolling in online Healthy Lifestyle programs, and by accessing the bonanza of health information on

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Wartime shipyard child care centers set standards for future

posted on September 29, 2010

Naptime for Kaiser kids

By Ginny McPartland
Child care at the workplace was a brand new phenomenon in World War II. The government-subsidized Kaiser West Coast Shipyards nursery schools, which enrolled more than 7,000 offspring of women war workers, offered the perfect opportunity to test theories of the then-fledgling field of child development.

In 1943, Henry J. Kaiser invited key figures in child development studies to his shipyards to set up ideal facilities and programs so workers could build ships without worrying about the safety and health of their children. These model child care centers at the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, California, and Portland, Oregon, yielded valuable research results that helped fuel the study of early childhood education for decades after the war.

Catherine Landreth, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley, set up the Richmond schools program. Lois Meek Stolz, PhD, a child development researcher and author from Columbia University and UC Berkeley, set up the Portland centers. James L. Hymes, Jr., a student of Stolz at Columbia, served as manager of the Portland centers.

Stolz and Landreth continued to exert influence on the child development world until the end of their lives. But it was Hymes, just 30 at war’s end, who would become a prodigious contributor to the child development literature for the next five decades. His work is often quoted today. One such quote reflects lessons from the home front: “Every day-care center, whether it knows it or not, is a school. The choice is never between custodial care and education. The choice is between unplanned and planned education, between conscious and unconscious education, between bad education and good education.”

Early Hymes work discovered this summer

Recently, my colleagues and I unearthed the final report of the two Portland Kaiser wartime child development centers, along with a series of seven pamphlets written for postwar child care providers. We found these documents, mainly written by Hymes, in the Institute of Governmental Studies Library in the basement of UCB’s Moses Hall. They were originally filed in 1946 in the Library for Economic Research at Berkeley.

The series of pamphlets includes: 1) A Social Philosophy from Nursery School Teaching; 2) Must Nursery Teachers Plan? 3) Who Will Need a Post-War Nursery School? 4) Meeting Needs: The War Nursery Approach; 5) The Role of the Nutritionist; 6) Large Groups in Nursery School; 7) Should Children Under Two Be in the Nursery School? Two unnumbered pamphlets titled “Toys to Make” and “Recipes for Foods for Children” were also mentioned in the report but copies are not available in the library. Teachers bought a total of 2,582 pamphlets at 15 cents each, according to the report dated December 1945.

Pamphlets offer nuggets

The pamphlet titled “Should Children Under Two Be in Nursery School?” addressed an issue the child care centers were forced to face head-on during the war. Generally, nursery schools did not take children under 2 because experiments had shown the younger children did not thrive in group settings. But the demand for care for infants was too high in the shipyards to ignore. They agreed to accept children as young as 18 months, and in Oregon alone the centers enrolled 904 children 18 to 24 months of age.

“We therefore set out to plan a program which would include among other things: Provision for close and continuous relation of each child with one adult who would be responsible for him especially during eating, toileting and sleeping and during any time of emotional stress when he needed ‘mothering,’ ” wrote Stolz and Hymes.

Good food for good health

Another key wartime lesson: “Food influences behavior. Small children…have pounded into us in unforgettable ways that hungry people are irritable; that they fight more; that they cry easily; that they become destructive…Some children we have seen, hungrier still, have told us that hunger can make people placid, inactive, lethargic,” Hymes wrote. In pamphlet 5, Miriam Lowenberg, chief nutritionist, discussed the crucial link between food and good health: “The (nursery school) nutritionist (helps) teachers … bring the child who needs medical care to the attention of a visiting nurse or doctor.”

The final report discussed other crucial issues such as: the need for child care services after the war for low-income women, costs of the child care operation including nourishing meals, methods of recruiting and retaining qualified teachers, nurses and counselors, providing weekly onsite professional development, and offering opportunities for staff to participate in policy decisions. Attempts to maintain a 10:1 child-to-teacher ratio for the children over 2 and a 5:1 ratio for the infants 18 to 24 months were mostly successful, the authors reported.

Kaiser experts shine on after war

After the war ended, Hymes gained national recognition as an author. Among his earliest best-selling booklets was “A Pound of Prevention” in 1947, which advised first-grade teachers on how to handle difficult “war babies.” He wrote that the “crybabies, whiners and bullies” were still suffering from the disruption of war. Hymes also wrote “How to Tell Your Child About Sex” (1949), “Behavior and Misbehavior: A Teacher’s Guide to Discipline” (1957), “Teaching the Child Under Six” (1968), and “Twenty Years in Review: A Look at Early Childhood Education 1971-1990.”

Hymes served in the Lyndon Johnson administration on the National Planning Committee for Head Start. He and Catherine Landreth both were instrumental in the development of the educational program for low-income children. Landreth was also known for her groundbreaking research in social perception. One of her studies found that children learn racial prejudice from their parents as early as three years old. She wrote three books that were influential in shaping early childhood education: “Education of the Young Child” (with Katherine H. Read), 1942; “The Psychology of Early Childhood,” 1958; and “Preschool Learning and Teaching,” 1972.

After the war, Stolz published “Father Relations of War-Born Children,” a study of how father-child relationships were affected by a father’s absence for war duty (1954); “Our changing understanding of young children’s fears, 1920-1960” (1964), among other related works.

To learn more about the legacy of child care in the World War II Kaiser Shipyards, visit the Home Front festival Saturday, Oct.2, at the Craneway Pavilion on the Richmond waterfront. Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources is collaborating with Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park to tell the story of the wartime child care centers.

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