|Reviewers Comments: ||The Fruit, Vegetable, and Physical Activity Toolbox for Community Educators is a complete and comprehensive nutrition education kit designed specifically for SNAP-Ed providers. The main components of the kit include a thick binder containing lessons on nutrition, physical activity and community empowerment; handouts; and an evaluation tool. Other resources incorporated in the kit include:
- Energize Your Body With Fruits and Vegetables! Poster. This colorful poster is double-sided, with one side in English and one in Spanish. It features visual pictures of portions size amounts for various fruits and vegetables.
- Dr. Richter’s Fresh Produce Guide. This spiral bound book, available in English only, consists of information on various types of fruits and vegetables, including taste, classification, storage, selection, and seasonality. It also includes several recipes with some nutrition information. The guide encourages the consumption of new fruits and vegetables that may be unfamiliar to participants. Some of the produce described in the guide may be hard to locate and/or expensive for SNAP-Ed participants.
- How Many Cups of Fruits and Vegetables Do I Need? This cardboard pull down tool helps easily identify how many cups of fruits and vegetables are recommended by lining up your gender, activity level, and age. It is included in both English and Spanish.
- Fruit/vegetables/physical activity cards (5 sets) in English/Spanish. These are identical to regular playing cards but feature colorful pictures of fruits, vegetables, and physical activity on both sides. The jokers represent “coach potato” and “junk food”. Games using these cards are used in the lessons. These games may influence participant knowledge and enjoyment, but are not behavior change activities.
- Educational Media Disc comprised of three main resources
- Shake it Up! Music CD. Collection of fruit and vegetable themed songs designed to inspire children and their families to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. (mostly English, some Spanish)
- A Day in the Life DVD. Video showing a variety of ways to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and get the recommended level of physical activity where one lives, works, worships, plays, and shops. (English only)
- Love is Conquered by Food DVD– Telenovela illustrates the importance of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and doing physical activity every day. (Spanish only)
- Also included on the disc are “extras” – two motivating television commercials and radio public service announcements. (English and Spanish)
- Discussion Guide for A Day in the Life DVD, available in English only.
- Several small pamphlets about “Fruits and Vegetables” and “Physical Activity” in both English and Spanish, which can be used to reinforce the main program ideas.
While the many facets of the kit may be overwhelming at first, its organized nature will make it easy to navigate the components and put the lessons into action. The curriculum begins with two key lessons that focus on the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables and recommended amount of physical activity for adults. These lessons are followed by seven easy-to-implement nutrient lessons, a community empowerment lesson, six physical activity lessons, reproducible educational handouts, and an evaluation. All aspects of the curriculum are available in English and Spanish.
Each lesson is logically arranged for the SNAP-Ed provider. Lessons include learning objectives, a list of materials, preparation activities (if any), instructions for teaching the lesson, and expansion ideas for further study. Lessons are easy to follow and are complimented by full color glossy photographs. At least one activity is included with all lessons. Some of the activities are designed to increase nutrition knowledge and some teach skills that target behavior change. Other lessons help participants build self confidence and strengthen social supports. Not all activities are needed to complete the series.
The nutrition lessons cover a variety of topics, including recipe preparation, gardening, grocery shopping, and eating healthy on the go. Lessons are consistent with MyPyramid and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Some lessons include special equipment or materials such as kitchen utensils and appliances, ingredients, gardening tools, small plants, beans, and classroom items such as pencils, markers, a dry erase board, or paper clips. Handouts are copy-ready and compliment the lessons well. The recipes in the lessons and the handouts include serving size, yield, prep time, and some nutrition information. The Seasonality Guide includes information specific to the state of California.
The physical activity lessons incorporate various low cost exercises, such as walking, dancing, jump rope, playing with a ball, and doing relay races. The jump rope and ball must be obtained separately. The physical activity lessons are guided by a Physical Activity Pyramid, which was developed by California Champions for Change and is consistent with the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic physical activity each week. The relay races may be hard for some participants to do outside of the classroom environment. Physical activity handouts include exercise and dance explanations with pictures.
The community empowerment lesson encourages participants to advocate for greater access to fruits, vegetables and physical activity opportunities in the community by identifying barriers and solutions. This lesson would work well with more outspoken, eager groups. The Community Assessment and the Community Walkability checklist that go along with this lesson both include small font and difficult vocabulary, and may be hard for some participants to read and complete without guidance.
Lessons can be modified to meet the needs of participants. They are best when conducted in small groups, but can also be carried out with individuals at home or with larger classes. Lesson time is not specified and may vary greatly; however, some shorter lessons and many can be combined. The first two lessons should be completed first and after that, lessons can be completed in any order. While most lessons are designed for adults, some can be done with adults and children together. Lessons are not recommended for children without a parent present. Some lessons involve worksheets which require participants to keep track of their fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity. Participants can complete these in class or on their own time.
For evaluation purposes, a brief, seven-question nutrition and physical activity quiz is included to measure participants’ knowledge. The quiz can be administered before and after the program is completed. An answer key is not included; however, the answers can be easily found in the curriculum.
The kit is neatly packed together in an organized cardboard box, covered with inspirational sayings and motivational quotes for the SNAP-Ed provider. A nutrition educator can order this well structured resource as a complete kit or access its various components from the Toolbox Web site.