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 improve the food environment in the communities we serve.
In FY22, (NEP) collaborated with 57 community agencies and organizations in Massachusetts with unduplicated reach totaling 9,400 individuals. Through direct education workshops, NEP reached 30,321 participants, representing 29,364 youth and 957 adults.
SNAP-Ed nutrition education was delivered across the Commonwealth
- Adult education and job-training programs
- Community centers and gardens
- Child care and preschool programs
- Elderly service centers
- Family resource centers
- Food assistance sites, food banks, and food pantries
- Farmers' markets and mobile markets
- Head Start programs
- 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, 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
SNAP-Ed’s community partnerships fostered 29 PSE activities throughout Massachusetts. These opportunities for education and change increases access to healthy foods and physical activities for for SNAP eligible participants.
FY22 Highlights and successes
In the NORTHEASTERN REGION, our nutrition educators offered the Spring Salad Days Program in Salem and Lynn. The program included planting, harvesting, and tasting fresh vegetables.
In the SOUTHEASTERN REGION, our nutrition educators supported a recess garden club that was offered to students as an activity where students were able to plant, maintain, and taste the vegetables in Plymouth.
Our CAPE COD REGION nutrition educators collaborated with Cape Cod Buy Fresh, Buy Local and Master Gardeners presented Seed to Plate workshops at older adult sites to empower this population to plant container gardens to grow and enjoy their own herbs and vegetables. NEP staff created a series of bi-lingual food demonstration recipes videos called, Cooking with UMass NEP Educators, featuring locally grown produce and easy to prepare meals.
The CENTRAL REGION nutrition educators collaborated with the Worcester Reach program to provide technical assistance and support to two food pantries, El Buen Samaritano Food Pantry and the Pernet Health Center Food Pantry to implement choice food pantry models. The first phase of food ranking was completed using the SWAP tool. Recipes modified with recommendations for swapping ingredients that would be culturally acceptable for the Latino population.
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.