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Title:Smart Choices: A Community Nutrition Education Program
Pub. date: 2005
Includes: The curriculum package includes lesson plans, accompanying flip charts, PowerPoint presentations, exhibits, and fact/activity sheets. Marketing materials – poster, brochures, magnet, card – also available.
Audience: Adults, Low literacy, Low income, Rural and Urban
Language: English, Spanish planned
Description:The Smart Choices program is designed to teach people with limited resources how to improve their dietary practices and become more effective managers of available resources. Classes teach participants ways to stretch their food dollars, how to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, recipes and suggestions for introducing new foods in their diet and eating more meals at home with family, tips for gardening, and referral information for other community resources and assistance programs.
Funding Source: FSNE and EFNEP
Developer: Roy, H., Cintron, A., Guarino, A., Reames, B., Myhand, J., Whelan, E.
Organization: Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
Readability: Consumer materials at 5th grade reading level.
Pilot Testing: Informal field testing was done with target audiences and field agents.
Assessment instrument Used? no
Use Restrictions: May copy for educational purposes.
Reviewers Comments: Smart Choices is a community nutrition education program that provides families with practical and useful nutrition information on healthy eating with a limited budget. Each of the fifteen lesson focuses on different topics that are broad and varied. Lessons cover the nutrition facts label, physical activity, shopping on a budget, eating on the go, individual food groups, food safety, and kitchen tips for preparing meals in a hurry. Lessons are based on the on 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid. Three of the lessons focus on more specific topics: heart health, pregnancy and feeding young children. Educators may only want to use these lessons if they are applicable to majority of class.

Each lesson is complemented with beautiful 11” x 17” color posters, which are clipped together in two large binders, making them versatile and convenient for transport. Most lessons have from 9 to 13 posters associated with them, although a few use up to 20 posters. The posters emphasize and summarize the major objectives of the lesson. They include key aims and colorful graphics on front, and speaking points on the back. The content of the posters is also available in PowerPoint format, with the speaking points on the back of the poster included in the “Notes” section. Since the posters and the PowerPoints contain identical information, there is no need to use both visual aides when teaching a class, although it can be useful to have options that may be adjusted based on the class site.

Lessons are written in basic language using the posters as a framework for a discussion of the key points. Educators can follow the sequence of the posters as they teach the lesson. The lesson plan includes key concepts, objectives, materials, and outlines specifically what the educator should say and say and do while showing the posters. Educators are encouraged to discuss the information with participants and encourage them to answer questions, rather than read the material in the lesson plan. Some lesson plans also include additional visual aides, assessment questions and evaluation materials. Lesson time not provided but lesson plans are of varying lengths.

All of the lessons include interactive activities and several handouts and fact sheets for adults and youth. The handouts include topics consistent with the lessons and help participants apply the information they have learned. For example, they include a sample menu planner, smart snacking ideas, grocery lists, and making healthier choices in each food group. The handouts are colorful, informative and have a logical layout. Some include activities and puzzles, as well as healthy recipes. All recipes include nutrition information and use low cost, readily available ingredients. All handouts are available for free online (see Web site below).

Although the lesson plans are strongly structured, an educator can easily adapt the curriculum and chose to use all partial components. The posters, PowerPoints, handouts and/or activities may be adapted for use with other existing lessons. Lessons may be used individually or presented together in a series.

While the Smart Choices is an excellent program that contains research-based, accurate and current information there are some criticisms. Because of multiple authors, there are inconsistencies in the lesson plan language. Some of the information in the lesson plans and the handouts are specific to Louisiana. Cost information in the “thrifty choices” lesson may not be accurate based on other locations and the current economy. Finally, a brand name is mentioned in at least one of the handouts.

Marketing materials for the Smart Choices curriculum that may be available include a large banner, a poster on a foam board, magnets, brochures, and exercise/nutrition cards. Lessons are available in a curriculum binder or on CD-Rom. Overall, this is a well-designed resource for educators that are looking for a curriculum that covers a wide variety of topics and includes attractive and engaging visual aides.

Borrow it from the National Agricultural Library (NAL)
SNAP staff/SNAP-Ed providers can borrow materials from NAL through interlibrary loan.
    NAL Call No.: Kit no. 610
    Go to Request Library Materials
View/download files: 
Links to Smart Choices Fact Sheets::
Contact the Distributor:
    Distributor: LSU Agricultural Center Nutrition Programs & 4-H Youth Development
    Contact: Annrose Guarino
    Mail: PO Box 25100
Baton Rouge, LA 70894
    Phone: (225) 578-4449
    Ordering: Contact Dr. Heli Roy at for additional PDFs.
    Cost: 0.00 per
    Avail. in Qty: No
    Bulkrate:cost bundled

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