SNAP-Ed Connection e-BulletinThe SNAP-Ed Connection e-Bulletin
The SNAP-Ed Connection e-Bulletin brings the latest news and resources to your inbox. The e-Bulletin replaces the previous semi-annual print Bulletin. You can view previous editions of the e-Bulletin or read full-text articles below.
The Learning Kitchen
This article was written and submitted by Hunger Free Vermont.
In a series of six lessons, participants learn about balancing and planning healthy meals, stretching food dollars to maximize nutrition, shopping strategies, and cooking techniques. An example lesson includes “Produce and Protein,” with a goal to encourage participants to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and healthy protein options into their diet. Classes are taught by community chefs and nutrition experts who volunteer to be trained to lead a series. There are three curricula: youth, young adult, and adult. Though similar in nutrition education content, the young adult and adult curricula include a grocery store trip, and the adult curriculum focuses attention on family feeding skills and child feeding issues. For newsletters, sample recipes, and eligibility information, visit The Learning Kitchen from Hunger Free Vermont.
Type of Program
Hands-on cooking and nutrition education
Years of Program Implementation
Number of Participants
Hunger Free Vermont hosts 40-50 series per fiscal year. On average, 11 participants take part in each series; therefore, 440-550 people participate in The Learning Kitchen yearly. Since 1999 over 7,400 Vermonters have benefited from the program.
The USDA Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program is intended to serve SNAP participants and low- income individuals eligible to receive SNAP benefits or other means-tested federal assistance programs. In Vermont, SNAP is referred to as “3SquaresVT.” Our target audience extends to anyone whose income is at or below 185% of poverty level. It is important to note that more than half of all participants in each series must be part of this target audience.
The program is evaluated in several ways to help measure the overarching goal of behavior change, based on the Social Cognitive Theory of behavior change. Evaluation is critical to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum.
There is a 16 question pre/post evaluation survey that is administered on the first and last class to measure changes in dietary behavior of the participants. This evaluation is based on the Food Behavior Checklist, a tested evaluation tool that has been found reliable and valid with low-income audiences, both child and adult.* Hunger Free Vermont analyzes the surveys after the first class and sends the series host a report. These are also used to evaluate the whole program based on aggregated results at the conclusion of each fiscal year.
A weekly check-in data sheet is provided to all Learning Kitchen series and is conducted at the beginning of lessons during group conversation. It is designed to collect information about participants’ behaviors between classes with regard to making the recipes at home and completing the take-home challenges. There is a subjective evaluation that is administered at the final class to solicit comments and feedback.
Hunger Free Vermont has also developed and utilized an evaluation tool for use during on-site visits, which are done as needed to review compliance with SNAP-Ed requirements and to measure program fidelity across different series.
Statistics and Program Impact
The number of participants who reported that they
- prepare meals and snacks for their families either “often” or “every day,” increased from 22% to 41%, between program entry and exit;
- eat 1.5 cups or more of vegetables each day, increased from 28% to 55%, between program entry and exit;
- “always” eat whole grain bread when they eat bread, increased from 23% to 33% between program entry and exit.
The number of participants who reported that they
- eat more than one kind of fruit each day either “often” or “every day,” increased from 17% to 57% between program entry and exit;
- use the Nutrition Facts Label when choosing which foods to eat either “often” or “every day,” increased from 17% to 53% between program entry and exit.
For further information please contact Katy Davis, Hunger Free Vermont. All logos are used with permission.
*(2010). Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 42, (5).
Return to the full issue of the October 2014 e-Bulletin
Cooking with Kids, Inc.
This article was written and submitted by Cooking with Kids, Inc.
The heart of Cooking with Kids (CWK) is positive experience with healthy foods. Every year over 5,000 Santa Fe public school children engage in hands-on learning with fresh, affordable foods from diverse cultural traditions as part of their regular school day. Family member volunteers and classroom teachers assist CWK staff members in CWK cooking and fruit and vegetable tasting classes. For free Fruit and Vegetable Tasting lessons, cooking skills videos and more, visit Cooking with Kids.
Type of Program
Hands-on food and nutrition education
Years of Program Implementation
Number of Participants
Over 5,000 students annually + 1,500 parent volunteers
Pre K-6th grade elementary school children and their families
Research conducted through Colorado State University revealed Cooking with Kids’ efficacy in positively affecting students’ preferences for fruits and vegetables, especially among boys. Read the Study: "Impact of a School-Based Cooking Curriculum for Fourth-Grade Students on Attitudes and Behaviors Is Influenced by Gender and Prior Cooking Experience".*
The program is evaluated through observations, teacher and parent surveys; by integration into the school curriculum; and by parent participation. A new evaluation initiative will engage CWK alumni (ages 15-30) in learning how the program has influenced their food preparation and eating habits. In addition, ongoing research is being conducted through Colorado State University, and a new SNAP-Ed evaluation project in collaboration with University of New Mexico is in development.
- Teacher surveys conducted in May 2014 showed that 98% want their school to continue to participate in Cooking with Kids programming.
- In a 2013 parent survey, 75% reported that their child told them about Cooking with Kids. 37% reported that they prepare CWK recipes at home.
- "Both of my boys love Cooking with Kids! My older son had never eaten salad until he prepared it in CWK, but now he eats salad often, and asks to help make it for company. My kindergartener is also more interested in helping in the kitchen now. I like the emphasis on where ingredients are from, and the cultural aspects of food."
- "Our whole family participated in the program. There were even days when my daughter had both her father and grandmother there (3 generations). At dinner time my daughter would share the “Cooking with Kids” experience with all of the family. We have saved all the recipes and prepared some at home."
For further information please contact Lynn Walters, Executive Director, Cooking with Kids, Inc. All logos are used with permission.
*Cunningham-Sabo, Leslie and Barbara Lohse. "Impact of a School-Based Cooking Curriculum for Fourth-Grade Students on Attitudes and Behaviors Is Influenced by Gender and Prior Cooking Experience." Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 46.2 (2014): 110-120.
Return to the full issue of the August 2014 e-Bulletin
Michigan Fitness Foundation "They learn from watching you..."
This article was written and submitted by the Michigan Fitness Foundation.
The Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) has conducted the "They learn from watching you..." social marketing campaign since 2006 to expand and enhance on-the-ground SNAP-Ed. The campaign targets low-income families using USDA core nutrition messages -- featuring tools and resources that support fruit and vegetable consumption and daily physical activity.
In 2012, those who saw MFF social marketing were significantly more likely than respondents who did not see the social marketing to report readiness to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity (per the Stages of Change Model).
In 2013, MFF added new, multi-level components to the "They learn from watching you..." social marketing campaign. These include:
- School-based nutrition education and taste tests
Education and taste tests were conducted in 148 USDA Michigan Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program schools. This component included curriculum tie-ins for teachers, physical activity suggestions, and a parent take home newsletter, exposing 80,000 students and parents to different fruits and vegetables each month.
- Michigan Harvest of the Month grocery store promotion
Nine stores showcased preparation, taste, and benefits of the same fruits and vegetable promoted in schools. Twenty-seven percent of shoppers surveyed bought vegetables that they had not previously intended to purchase. Fifty percent remembered the demonstration. Store directors/managers stated that their customers responded positively to the promotions.
- Billboards and bus wraps
Billboards and bus wraps had the following messages: They learn from watching you: Eat more fruits and veggies and they will too and They learn from watching you: Be active and your kids will too. The messages were displayed from May-August, 2013 in 12 Michigan counties with the highest SNAP participation.
- Private-sector partnership
The Lansing Lugnuts, a minor-league baseball team, produced a video public service announcement (PSA) using the same core messaging. The PSA features Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor and his family, and will be played at every 2014 Lugnuts home game, achieving an additional estimated 330,000 eyes-on impressions, at no additional cost.
For further information please contact Marci Scott, PhD, RDN, Michigan Fitness Foundation. All logos are used with permission.
Return to the full issue of the June 2014 e-Bulletin
Iowa Nutrition Network School Grant Program
This article was written and submitted by Doris Montgomery, on behalf of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The Iowa Nutrition Network School Grant Program is designed to improve fruit and vegetable and low-fat dairy consumption among elementary school children in schools with at least 50 percent participation in free- and reduced-price lunch. The program delivers classroom-based nutrition and physical activity education supported by social marketing strategies.
Monthly lessons encourage students to choose fruits and vegetables for snacks. Lessons feature fruits and veggies that students taste with their peers. Fruit and vegetable lessons are available for nutrition educators and classroom teachers. The milk lessons are taught at least twice each year.
There are two school-based campaigns that are part of the School Grant Program. The Pick a better snack™ campaign materials reinforce classroom lessons and trigger action by students and their families. Featured fruits and vegetables are incorporated into family Bingo cards and newsletters that go home with students monthly. Schools use the campaign to promote lunch menu items and to support USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Classroom lessons incorporate physical activity demonstrations and messages about active play. Play Your Way. One Hour a Day. is a companion campaign to Pick a better snack™.
One campaign is designed exclusively for mothers. Their bodies change, so should their milk. encourages mothers to make the switch to low-fat milk for children age two and over. This campaign does not appear in schools.
The channels of communication (beyond schools) for the social marketing campaigns include; supermarket signage and demonstrations, billboards and bus shelter signage in SNAP-Ed-qualified locations, television and radio ads, and materials at organizations such as WIC and YMCAs.
The Network’s school-based program was included in USDA’s Wave II SNAP Education and Evaluation Study. The program had a significant, positive impact on several primary outcomes compared with the comparison group. Significant changes include reported intake of fruits and vegetables and the likelihood of using 1 percent or skim milk rather than whole milk. View the final report from USDA.
For more information, contact Doris Montgomery, Iowa Department of Public Health
Return to the full January issue.
Cent$ible Nutrition Program
This article was written and submitted by Dietetic Intern Katlyn Thomas, on behalf of the University of Wyoming Extension.
Many people in the general population claim that “eating healthy is too expensive.” While fresh fruits and vegetables may seem expensive, if done right, they can fit into any budget along with other nutritious foods such as whole grains and low-fat or no-fat milk. Budgets and eating healthy seem like daunting tasks, but the Cent$ible Nutrition Program of Wyoming (CNP) is there to help! CNP of Wyoming is open to individuals, families and youth who benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in each of the State’s 23 counties.
This is a program that is built to educate through a series of classes about eating healthy on a budget. Classes include practical education through cooking, food safety, nutrition, planning meals, grocery shopping and physical activity. One of the shining stars of the Wyoming CNP is the cookbook that is given to participants which includes Master Mix and Magic Mix. These two mixes are recipes that are made from scratch with a few ingredients, shelf stable, and bulk size and intended to be used in many different recipes. By teaching participants how to shop and cook once, participants learn how to stretch the food dollar and eat nutritiously!
An exciting event that the Wyoming CNP recently hosted was the “Two Buck Lunch.” Several entrees featured in the cookbook were made and guests were given “$2” to “buy” lunch with. The premise of the low dollar amount for a meal is based on the USDA thrifty meal plan. Special guest of the event was Wyoming’s First Lady Carol Mead. She has a new snack time recipe book called “Wyoming 9th Annual First Lady’s Family Night” which features a few of CNP’s recipes!
July 2013, Volume 1, Issue 2: Text2BHealthy
This article was written and submitted to SNAP-Ed Connection by Maryland's Food Supplement Nutrition Education program.
Text2BHealthy is a text message program targeting parents of elementary school students who are currently receiving classroom-based nutrition education. Face-to-face nutrition education is an effective tool in teaching children about fruits and vegetables, but programs often experience difficulty reaching parents. Text2BHealthy provides parents with “nutrition nudges” 2-3 times per week on nutrition-related school and community activities, grocery store specials, and physical activity ideas. Messages are targeted and focus on encouraging families to take action. The program includes an email alternative to text messages and Spanish messages in select schools.
Sample text messages:
Some WGES students made fajitas during garden lessons this week. Look for the Harvest Fajitas recipe in your child's backpack - a tasty way to get more veggies!
Zucchini & squash are on sale @ Giant. Chop into small pieces & cook in a frying pan with cooking spray. Add your favorite spice & serve!
Text2BHealthy began in January 2012 with 6 schools and 203 parents participating across Maryland. Pilot program focus group and survey data show that the vast majority of eligible parents had cell phones and unlimited texting plans. Among participants, 94% of parents read all text messages, 98% always or sometimes do something suggested in one of the texts and 84% of parents intended to enroll again the following year. During the 5-month pilot, 91% of participants were retained.
Text2BHealthy expanded in August 2012 to 11 schools. A total of 1283 parents have enrolled in the program with 239 receiving e-mail messages. The retention rate for the program is 89% through the first year.
Questions are periodically texted to participants to evaluate their behavior relevant to specific messages. Average response rate is about 20%. Data collection focuses on fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, grocery shopping and cooking, as well as cell phone use and preferences.
April 2013, Volume 1, Issue 1: Food Hero Social Marketing Campaign
This article was written and submitted to SNAP-Ed Connection by Lauren Tobey, MS, RD and Elaine Schrumpf, MS of Oregon State University Extension.
Food Hero is a research based Spanish and English language multi-channel social marketing campaign developed by Oregon State University Extension and designed to inconspicuously increase consumption of vegetables and fruits within the targeted audience of SNAP-eligible Oregon moms in an empowering way. All aspects of the campaign are written and designed to be learner centered and actionable. The channels are a website, community programming kits, media, and a monthly message package which includes a social media platform.
Food Hero came about through Oregon SNAP bonus funds received in 2008 through Governor Ted Kulongoski’s health initiative after he experienced how difficult it was to live off the average Food Stamp budget at the time of $3 per day. A needs assessment was conducted through focus groups, phone surveys (n=2332) with SNAP participants and an extensive literature review. The following key results, helped focus the campaign design:
- Moms want to find information about healthy food choices online (46.7%), at grocery stores (16%) and in magazines (12%).
- Moms currently find cooking tips/ideas on web sites (28%) and from friends and family (25%).
- Moms felt they knew how to prepare and eat produce, yet they reported intake below recommended levels.
FoodHero.org is multilingual and features recipes, actionable tips and tools, Food Hero Monthly, and connections to Food Hero social media sites. Food Hero was built from existing materials that were repackaged and rewritten to be current with emerging research on best practices for delivering health education.
On FoodHero.org all states can print off tasty recipes and actionable tips. Recipes have nutrition facts, professional photos, are well tested and follow strict nutritional criteria. Check out our most popular recipe (Chicken, Broccoli & Cheese Skillet Meal) and tip (Menu and Meal Planning). And be sure to follow Food Hero social media sites along with 800+ others!
Funding: Funding for Food Hero came from USDA Food and Nutrition Service SNAP-Ed plus some supplementary Oregon State University funds and Oregon SNAP funds.
Contact: Lauren.Tobey@oregonstate.edu. 541-737-1017.