SNAP-Ed – what is it?
Participate in community SNAP-Ed programs to learn new ideas for saving money and creating healthy, easy meals.
A record number of school districts are receiving federal funds to feed their students breakfast and lunch. Schools with 50 percent or more of their students receiving free or reduced lunches are eligible to receive nutrition education programming called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed).
The goal of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and engage a physically active lifestyle consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food guidance. The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion website provides a wealth of nutrition information and tools such as the 2015 Dietary Food Guidelines.
The focus of SNAP-Ed is health promotion: to help the SNAP-Ed audience establish a physically active lifestyle and to prevent or postpone the onset of disease by establishing healthier eating habits. The objectives SNAP-Ed has are for behavioral changes. Specific behavioral changes the program hopes to help participants achieve are:
- Making half your plate fruits and vegetables, at least half your grains whole grains and switching to fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Increasing physical activity and reducing time spent in sedentary behaviors.
- Maintaining an appropriate calorie balance during each stage of life – childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy and breastfeeding and as an older adult.
Various schools and agencies and that provide services to SNAP-Ed eligible audiences have nutrition educators or nutrition programs available to all adults and families living in that school district or community. If your child is receiving free or reduced lunch, ask the school principal if nutrition educators or nutrition programs are available; sometimes there are nutrition classes for the entire family. Most of these programs are free and provide hands-on, fun lessons, including tips on food preparation, food budgeting, food safety and recipe exchanges.
Michigan State University Extension offers a variety of SNAP-Ed approved programs throughout the state that offer nutrition education to youth, adults and families in a variety of settings. Find an event near you by contacting your local MSU Extension; they will direct you to nutrition education providers in your community. Partake and promote SNAP-Ed nutrition and physical activity programming in your community. If nutrition and physical activity programming and education are not available in your community, be proactive and help establish a program today!