Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education Impacts
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) includes a nutrition education and obesity prevention program called SNAP-Ed. SNAP-Ed provides nutrition lessons and information to SNAP participants to help them make healthier choices and get the most out of their SNAP benefits.
SNAP-Ed also works with organizations, coalitions, and task forces to change the food environment so that the healthy choice becomes the easier choice.
In FY 2020, the UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program (NEP), implementing SNAP-Ed partnered with 113 community agencies and organizations throughout Massachusetts. Through direct education, we reached a total of 35,192 SNAP-Ed participants.
SNAP-Ed nutrition education was delivered across the Commonwealth at:
- Adult education and job-training programs
- Community centers
- Child care and preschool programs
- Elderly service centers
- Family resource centers
- Food assistance sites, food banks, and food pantries
- Farmers' markets
- Head Start programs
- Public housing sites
- Public schools
- SNAP office sites
- Youth education and recreation sites
Using Effective Methods
- SNAP-Ed staff and educators work with local collaborators to design and implement programs that will meet local needs (including workshop series, single session workshops, displays, food/cooking demonstrations, posters, newsletters, and follow-up enrichment materials).
- SNAP-Ed provides newsletters and follow-up nutrition education materials to parents of participating youth to reinforce what their children have learned.
- SNAP-Ed provides follow-up materials for teachers, nurses, and food service staff in schools where SNAP-Ed educators conduct a series of lessons.
Changing Youth Behaviors
Significant behavior changes reported after completing a series of nutrition lessons: Students in grades 3-5 ate more vegetables, more fruits, and were more physically active.
SNAP-Ed Works in the Community
Strong partnerships with UMass Extension's NEP allowed 17 Policy, Systems, and Environment (PSE) change activities to take place in a wide variety of locations throughout Massachusetts reaching 6,199 participants. This support provided the opportunity for education and change increasing access to healthy foods and physical activities for SNAP eligible participants.
The COVID-19 pandemic challenged in-person nutrition workshops with adults and youth. NEP educators collaborated to adapt our curricula for online learning in a virtual environment, allowing SNAP-Ed to meet collaborator needs and open the door for new audiences. NEP stayed connected to our SNAP-Ed community partners by:
- Creating a newsletter, Nutrition Bites, with helpful information on staying safe, easy-to-prepare and healthy recipes, physical activity ideas and food access resources for participants
- Offering nutrition lessons for remote learning such as, live virtual education, pre-recorded videos, and nutrition lessons worksheets designed for parents to use when teaching children at home
- Supporting school and community garden activities with nutrition education and promotional materials for parents and children.