Michigan State University Extension makes sure that kids count

Michigan kids count data released about how community based nutrition education is making an impact.

Michigan State University Extension’s nutrition instructors have positive, impactful contact with our state’s most vulnerable population. Through local partnerships with government agencies, schools, childcare providers, parents, health departments, faith based organizations and many other community organizations, nutrition education is shared statewide. Children are encouraged to try new foods, learn about each of the five food groups through MyPlate and MyPyramid and begin comparing food labels, all through lessons centered on children’s books. Show Me Nutrition curriculum engages children in literature and themes to broaden their knowledge about healthy choices.                                  

The latest Kids Count in Michigan Data Book underscores the need to help children in Michigan, with eight of 15 indicators of child well-being showing worsening trends. The data reflects that between 2005 and 2011, child poverty went up 28 percent. Young children qualifying for food assistance jumped by 55 percent and confirmed victims of abuse and neglect (linked to poverty) increased by 28 percent. Despite the setbacks, there have been improvements, including the decline of kids in foster care and a decline in fourth-graders who are not proficient in reading.

Statistics are staggering and daunting, but impacts and success stories prove that together, schools, agencies and MSU Extension are bringing knowledge to life. Youth who participated in MSU Extension nutrition education classes statewide between October 2010 and September 2011 were more likely to:

  • Read the nutrition information on food labels.
  • Chose a healthy snack when they have the choice.
  • Choose foods from all five food groups.
  • Consume fruits or vegetables.

Visit Michigan’s Children for information on what the data means for public policies. See the Speaking for Kids Blog, Making Sure That Kids Count More in 2013 on what the data means for policy efforts in 2013. Voices for Michigan’s Children advocacy handout offers easy steps you can take to use the data book to begin improving public policies on behalf of Michigan children and families.

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