RNECE Final Report

RNECE final report graphic

The Regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Centers of Excellence (RNECE) National Coordination Center at the University of Kentucky released their final RNECE report recently.  This report includes the RNECE recommendations for future work in nutrition education for limited resource families in the United States.  Each regional center also has a report provided.  Please visit the RNECE Final Report for the complete report. 

Texting Programs in SNAP-Ed

Text2BHealthy image

Creating a text message based program has shown to be a non-conventional way to provide nutrition education to SNAP-Ed participants.  There are many programs across the country that have implemented a text message program in their state.  This is a list of programs that has been shared with the CoP with a general description of their current texting program and program contact information.

Alabama SNAP-Ed at Auburn University 

Alabama SNAP-Ed at Auburn University uses text messaging to engage parents of 3rd graders in a school-based obesity prevention initiative, Body Quest. Each year, parents of 3rd graders participating in Body Quest are invited to join the Recipe Tester Club for Body Quest Parents. Simultaneously with the 15-week Body Quest intervention with 3rd graders, parents receive a series of inexpensive, simple and kid-friendly vegetable recipes to prepare and “test” with their children at home. Parents provide their cell phone numbers on consent forms and are enrolled to receive text messages. Parents are sent action-oriented texts three times each week. Text messages include tips for improving personal and family eating, shopping and physical activity practices.

In the 2017-2018 school year, 4,348 parents were enrolled to receive texts using SMS messaging software, SimpleTexting. To coincide with Body Quest activities in schools, parents were assigned to treatment and control groups. Treatment parents (n = 2,394) had 3rd graders in the treatment group of Body Quest receiving obesity prevention education in school. Control parents (n = 1,954) had 3rd graders in the control group of Body Quest receiving delayed intervention after pre- and post-assessments were completed.

At the end of Body Quest, 54% of original treatment parents continued to receive texts through the initiative and participated in a post-survey texting poll. Parents texted responses to a series of questions and gave feedback on their experience with Body Quest and the Recipe Tester Club.

Alabama texting graphic

For more information, contact Katie Funderburk, MS, RD (kem0017@auburn.edu).

Colorado Integrated Nutrition Education Program (INEP)

The Integrated Nutrition Education Program (INEP), and The Culture of Wellness in Preschools (COWP) are programs through the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center at the University of Colorado School of Public Health.  We provide a creative and fun way for kids to learn about healthy eating in their classroom and to share what they learn with their families. Parent engagement is very important to our program.  As part of our efforts to engage parents, staff, and community members, we are developing a free text messaging program. The major themes of our messages will be Healthy Eating Behaviors, Physical Activity and Reduced Sedentary Behaviors, Healthy, Parent Engagement, Feeding Relationship, and Food Resource Management.

Text2BHealthy will be launched this month in approximately 45 elementary schools statewide, and 65 early childhood sites.  We will be working on multiple outreach efforts to continue enrolling parents into the program. If you have any questions feel free to contact Maria Saldana, maria.saldana@ucdenver.edu, or Julie Atwood, julie.atwood@ucdenver.edu

Health mPowers (Implementing Agency in GA)

HeathMPowers provides text messages to families of students in grades K-5 as part of the elementary school-based SNAP-Ed program, Empowering Healthy Choices in Schools, Homes and Communities. Families opt in to the initiative by texting a designated keyword to HealthMPowers. Participating families receive bi-weekly nutrition and physical activity tips, recipes and additional resources for shopping on a budget and being active as a family.  The messages are tied to monthly nutrition and physical activity themes, and weekly activities students are learning in the classroom through a nutrition and physical activity day planner provided to each child.   The texts, available in English or Spanish, provide consistent messaging across grade levels and reinforce key behaviors.

During the 2016-2017 school year, 1041 families were enrolled.  In September 2017, 916 families re-enrolled to continue receiving the text messages during the upcoming 2017-18 school year. Some did not re-enroll because their child had moved on to middle school. To date, there are over 1300 families enrolled in the texting initiative.

HealthMPowers also started a texting pilot for Early Care and Education during the 2017-18 school year. These text messages correspond to the themes used in the elementary texts, but are tailored to the needs and information for families of pre-school children. In addition, early care teachers receive the texts along with resources and strategies to reinforce the weekly messages in the classroom.

For more information, contact Kendall Charlton at Kendall.Charlton@healthmpowers.org.

Maryland Food Supplement Nutrition Education (FSNE)

Maryland developed Text2BHealthy in January 2012 as an indirect method of reaching parents with nutrition education. Text2BHealthy is a text message program targeting parents of elementary school students who are currently receiving classroom-based nutrition education.  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 and specific to the individuals school and community.

Text2BHealthy currently has 29 schools participating  across the state of Maryland and has over 2100 parents enrolled.

Text4HealthyTots is a text message based program in Maryland that is targeting parents of children ages 3-5. Messages give parents tips for feeding their children fruits and vegetables, healthy meal and recipe ideas, trying new foods, and being active as a family. Parents will receive 1-2 messages per week with ideas that relate to the time of year and often link to our blog, website, and Facebook page for more information.

Maryland uses Mobile Messaging by Upland Software as their software platform for sending messages.  For more information, contact Laryessa Worthington  lengland@umd.edu.

Michigan State University Extension
Michigan State University Extension has two small texting programs. One aims to provide parents with quick actionable tips, as well as recipes related to nutrition and being healthy as a family. This project began in September and we have 37 participants. Originally, we tried to solely recruit through our Healthier Child Care Environments PSE initiative and had minimal participants. Then we shared information about it on social media, which is how the majority of the participants were recruited. Two text messages are sent out each week – one actionable tip and one recipe.

The other text program MSU Extension has is for Flint parents who have been impacted by the Flint Water Crisis to provide them with recipes and tips for using their food assistance benefits effectively. There are 141 participants who receive about 1 text message a week. Less frequently, as they occur, we send community events and resources that are available to the residents. We recruited at community events beginning in June.

MSU Extension uses the free platform, Remind, to deliver both of these initiatives. Remind allows for scheduling of messages in advance, shows how many people received the message, and also how many read it. It also allows the participants to react (“like”) a message and you can also set up two-way communication if desired. While you can do all of these things, the analytics are not displayed readily; you have to look at each message individually. Remind is user-friendly, able to be managed by multiple people, and many of our participants are familiar with the program because a lot of teachers use it to communicate with parents.

For more information, contact Erin Powell, MS RD LDN at powelle9@anr.msu.edu.

Rhode Island SNAP-Ed at University of Rhode Island

Rhode Island SNAP-Ed has incorporated text messaging into its programming since 2015. RI SNAP-Ed successfully utilizes text messaging with participants in two primary ways: as reminder texts for upcoming SNAP-Ed programming, and as motivational reinforcers at the conclusion of series programming. Reminder texts have increased in popularity for both farmers’ market events (now year-round) and series workshops. Motivational texts serve as continuation of nutrition education after in-person programs have been completed; these are customized to either adult or parent audience and are delivered twice per week for four weeks, followed by a final survey to assess post-text behavior change. Texts are personalized to include the initial of the program leader and are offered in English and Spanish. Participants sign consent forms in order to be enrolled.

In FY2017, RI SNAP-Ed sent out a total of 2,738 texts, up 49% from the previous year. Breakdown of text type was as follows: 35% of texts to Adults for adult education reinforcement; 12% to Parents for parent education reinforcement; 38% went as reminders of upcoming farmers’ markets and other events; 13% contained links for post-text evaluation survey; and 2% of texts were interactions with participants e.g. replies to texts.

Contact Kate Balestracci, MS RD at katebal12@uri.edu for more information.  

Rhode Island Sample Text messages

Washington State University Extension

Reaching Rural Parents in New Ways: TEXTING!

As part of the Communication Initiative, Text2BHealthy (T2BH) was piloted to increase access to adults through 16 participating schools that serve as community hubs in rural settings. Participants were recruited via direct events at the beginning and middle of the school year, as well as indirectly via posters, flyers, and the school websites.

WA State Texting infographic
2,185 targeted behavioral text messages resulted in 331 participants receiving 27,111 indirect contacts over 42 weeks.

Customized texts included the following themes:

Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan Counties:  Physical activity, fruits and vegetables in season at local fresh markets, and tasty low cost recipes.

Grays Harbor, Skagit Counties: Physical activity, local sales where SNAP clients shop, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and reinforce direct education topics.

Behavioral Outcomes include:

  • 71% increased physical activity
  • 76% ate more fruit and vegetables
  • 55% saved money at the grocery store
  • 56% prepared and served text-linked recipes
Related Framework Indicators:  Healthy Eating Behaviors (MT1), Food Resource Management (MT2), Physical Activity (MT3), Physical activity and Reduced Sedentary Behavior (MT4), Nutrition Supports (MT5), Physical Activity Supports (MT6)
Socio-Ecological Framework:  Individual/Family, Social and Cultural Norms and Values, Environmental Settings
Approaches: Indirect Education; Systems Change

The texting platform that WA State Extension used to send their text messages was Twilio.  For more information, contact Kathleen Manenica at manenica@wsu.edu

FY17 SNAP-Ed and EFNEP State Impact Reports

FY17 Impact report highlight image

We have received the following states FY17 impact reports on their SNAP-Ed and EFNEP work during the 2017 fiscal year.  Click on the name of each state to view the corresponding report:

Highlighting Nutrition Education Programs in Schools

School based programming is a key opportunity to reach our target population in SNAP-Ed.  Two programs shared their Smarter Lunchrooms work.  Read more about their programs below:

Michigan State University

In 2016-2017, in partnership with Team Nutrition over 90 schools received the Smarter Lunchroom initiative. In addition, over 40 schools received the Fuel Up To Play 60 program in partnership with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. Trained Michigan State University nutrition professionals provide support in completing the pre and post assessment for each initiative as well as the implementation of 10 Smarter Lunchroom scorecard items or a Healthy Eating and Physical Activity play for Fuel up to Play 60. Many of the schools are receiving Smarter Lunchroom, Fuel Up to Play 60 as well as direct education using Show Me Nutrition for a true educational experience!   For more information on the work at Michigan State University, contact Dawn Earnesty, MS RDN (wilcoxd4@anr.msu.edu).

Fuel Up to Play 60 participants at MSU

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Food waste is a major issue in the United States. Schools are one of the most important sites for food waste reduction efforts because they hold a daily captive audience that can be influenced to make better choices. Additionally the state recently passed a law aimed to reduce the amount of food waste in New Jersey by 50 percent by 2030. Through the training and technical assistance of the Family and Community Health Science Educators the Paterson Public School system reduced food waste by approximately 90,720 pounds district wide for the school year. Working with the food service.  For more information, contact Sara Elnakib, RD, MPH, CHES (elnakib@njaes.rutgers.edu).

Smarter lunchrooms lunch line

2017 SNAP-Ed Program Development Team Meeting

2017 PDT committee

2017 Program Development Team Members.  Not all team members were present for the photo.

The Land-Grant University SNAP-Ed Program Development Team (PDT) met in Alexandria, Virginia to review progress, implement a strategic planning process, and develop key action steps for the upcoming year. This 16-person team represents all Extension regions and is comprised of Family and Consumer Science Program Leaders and other university administrators, SNAP-Ed Program Coordinators, and an office manager from the Land-Grant University (LGU) System, and a federal partner from NIFA. The PDT team meets through bimonthly conference calls, subcommittee work, and an annual face-to- face meeting to improve the consistency and effectiveness of SNAP-Ed programming through the LGU System in addressing national health and nutrition-related problems facing low-income populations.

Highlights of the meeting and the last year include:

  • Evaluation and Reporting. Publication and dissemination of the SNAP-Ed FY 2015 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education through the Land-Grant University System Report, Executive Summary, and two-page Infographic.  LGUs, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and NIFA were provided hard copies and notified of electronic versions. Members of ASNNA, a national association of SNAP-Ed implementing agencies, were notified of electronic version availability.
  • Collaboration for Shared Understanding. The PDT provided a display at the National SNAP Directors’ meeting. Two PDT members served in ASNNA leadership roles to ensure that LGU programs were at the table for implementing agency discussions.
  • Communication. The PDT prepared Monday Minute submissions to keep LGUs informed of SNAP-Ed developments and PDT contributions. They also partnered with the eXtension.org Community Nutrition Education Community of Practice to post yearly stakeholder reports, SNAP-Ed PDT documents, and LGU successes. PDT Co-Chair, Paula Peters shared highlights of PDT efforts at FCS Leader and ECOP meetings. She also drafted a document to articulate differences between EFNEP and SNAP-Ed at the request of ECOP leadership and provided feedback on LGU SNAP-Ed leadership expertise.
  • Professional Development and Cross Training. PDT members facilitated participation in SNAP-Ed PSE competency training and engaged Rural Development Centers to provide a webinar on the potential intersect of SNAP-Ed and Community Development. PDT members also provided leadership and collaboration for PSE training and development through collaboration with Regional Nutrition Education Centers of Excellence (RNECE).
  • Educating Policy Makers. PDT member, Angie Abbott was invited to attend a House Ag Committee call, following which, former PDT member, Jo Britt-Rankin was invited to provide oral testimony and current PDT member, Pat Bebo submitted written testimony on LGU SNAP-Ed impacts.
  • Strategic Planning. In February, an Ad Hoc Committee met to review LGU SNAP-Ed stakeholder input on current needs of LGU SNAP-Ed implementers, identified common themes, and considered what could be addressed through PDT efforts. This committee developed an overview of five issues as a precursor to strategic planning development by the full PDT. The issues identified included: 1. Integration of policy, systems and environmental (PSE) approaches, direct education and social marketing; 2. Strengthening LGU and state agency relationships; 3. Keeping abreast of the current policy climate; 4. Enhancing internal communication among LGUs; and 5. Building shared expertise across LGUs. In April, PDT members developed a 2017-2020 strategic plan based upon the Ad Hoc Committee recommendations, to guide PDT activities and deliverables over the next three years. Goals, action steps and members’ tasks were developed for 2017-2018.

Throughout the year, the PDT has played a critical role in educating about nutrition education for low-income families. Members have directly and indirectly communicated the importance of SNAP-Ed to decision makers, have provided formal or informal mentoring to colleagues in the LGU System and have addressed critical programmatic needs the LGU System faced during changes created by new legislation, regulations, and guidance. Thank you to members who have completed their service on the PDT: Paula Peters (Kansas State University), Jamie Dollahite (Cornell University), Kathleen Manenica (Washington State University), Angie Abbott (Purdue University), Mindy Meuli (University of Wyoming), De’Shoin York-Friendship (Southern University)

Members of the LGU SNAP-Ed Program Development Team for 2017-2018

North Central Region

Christine Hradek, SNAP-Ed and EFNEP Coordinator, Iowa State University

Megan Ness, EFNEP/FNP Coordinator, North Dakota State University

Pat Bebo, Interim Assistant Director FCS, Ohio State University

Northeast Region

Patsy Ezell, Assistant Director FCS, University of Maryland

Lisa Sullivan-Werner, FNP and EFNEP Leader, University of Massachusetts

Southern Region

Karla Shelnutt, Associate Professor & Extension Nutrition Specialist, University of Florida

Ivy Murphy (1890 rep), Try Healthy SNAP-Ed Project Coordinator, North Carolina A & T State University

Michelle Vineyard, Extension Specialist TNCEP, University of Tennessee

Renda Nelson, Better Living for Texans State Program Director, Texas A&M University

Western Region

Adrian Kohrt, FNP Coordinator, University of Alaska

Donna Sauter, ICAN Director (SNAP-Ed & EFNEP), New Mexico State University

Sally Bowman, Program Leader SNAP-Ed &  EFNEP, Oregon State University

Executive Committee

Laura Stephenson, Assistant Dean, University of Tennessee Extension

C.Y. Wang, Associate Dean & Associate Director, South Dakota State University

Sandra Jensen, Office Manager SNAP-Ed through the LGU System, South Dakota State University

Helen Chipman, National Program Leader Food & Nutrition Education, NIFA/USDA

To download a copy of the highlights of the meetings, visit  2017 PDT Committee Meeting Highlights.

FY16 SNAP-Ed and EFNEP State Impact Reports

Alabama report graphic

The following states have provided their FY16 impact reports on the SNAP-Ed and EFNEP work conducted during the 2016 fiscal year.  Click on the name of each state to view the corresponding report.

Article Published in Journal of Society of Nutrition Education & Behavior (JNEB)

Providing nutrition education to participants


Three members of the Community Nutrition Education Community of Practice recently had an article published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) in August 2016.  The article entitled What Does Evidence-Based Mean for Nutrition Educators? Best Practices for Choosing Nutrition Education Interventions Based on the Strength of the Evidence reviews current evidence to determine the likelihood that a given intervention produces the desired outcomes and how this evidence can be applied to nutrition education. 

To access the full journal article, click here.  


Tennessee Farmers Market


In Tennessee, a team of state specialists working with the University of Tennessee Extension SNAP-Ed: Tennessee Nutrition and Consumer Education (UT SNAP-Ed: TNCEP) program in the Department of Family and Consumers Sciences (FCS) have launched a state-wide social marketing program – Farmers’ Market Fresh.  The primary objective of Farmers’ Market Fresh is to encourage limited-resource families to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption through farmers’ markets.  

Throughout the summer, FCS County Agents, para-professionals, and assistants have booths at farmers’ markets where they offer food demonstrations, recipes, and research-based advice on best ways to select, prepare, and store some of our favorite summertime items.  The best part of the program – each person who stops by the booths receives a recipe card for the food being demonstrated.  At the end of the season, consumers could have an entire collection of recipes all featuring items fresh from the farmers’ market.  Adults, however, are not the only ones who learn from the Farmers’ Market Fresh booth.  Children enjoy a sample of the food prepared, and they are able to participate in a weekly children’s challenge.  Through the challenge, children are able to earn prizes for the fruits and vegetables their families purchase, prepare, and taste at home.  There is even some buzz that a special visitor – Rudy the Raccoon – makes an appearance at the markets.

During the pilot year (FY 2015), Farmers’ Market Fresh was implemented at 15 farmers’ markets.  A total of 121 food demonstrations were presented resulting in 29,071 educational contacts.  310,651 indirect contacts were made through exhibits, newspaper articles, publications, social media, and television segments.  As a result of the programming, fruit and vegetable consumption increased among the participants.  Additionally, SNAP redemption at the pilot markets increased by over $3,600.

Farmers’ Market Fresh is currently in its second year of implementation with programming occurring at 39 farmers’ markets across the state.