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Empowering Food Stamp Recipients for a Better Future

The Issue

The first goal of the Food Stamp’s Nutrition Education Program (FSNEP) is to empower families and individuals to help themselves. FSNEP offers food stamp recipients and applicants the "tools" to make positive changes in their lives. These tools range from motivating recipients to eat healthier diets to teaching families how to cook in order to prepare better foods at lower costs; teaching life skills that enable recipients to get and keep a job; teaching basic survival skills such as how to get out of debt, how to shop to save money, how to use community resources; introducing food safety skills to reduce food borne illness; and helping children learn better eating habits and the importance of physical activity.

What Has ANR Done?

FSNEP is administered by the University of California, Davis, and is funded through an interagency agreement with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FSNEP funding began in 1994 with a $750,000 budget allocated to 17 California counties. Its budget has grown to $8.8 million dollars and operates in 42 California counties, serving approximately 79,124 Food Stamp recipients.

Adult FSNEP delivers nutrition education programs directly to food stamp families and individuals through a variety of activities. FSNEP staff are hired and trained by university academics to deliver up-to-date university and USDA publications focusing on economical food shopping, low-cost and safe cooking practices, financial management, parenting and other life skills.

Youth FSNEP operates out of school districts that offer free and reduced-price lunches. University staff train teachers to deliver the nutrition education to grades kindergarten through high school.

The Payoff

Nutrition education changes the lives of children and adults

An important component of FSNEP is evaluation. Each year, program activities are evaluated and results are analyzed to determine ways to improve both program delivery and impact. Major improvements have been documented in dietary change (increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, decreasing foods high in fat and sugar, and reducing the number of times families eat at fast food restaurants); self-sufficiency changes (reducing money spent on food while, at the same time, increasing the diet's nutritional content; increasing skills in shopping and food preparation practices) and decreasing food-related illness in both adults and children.

Empowering food stamp individuals and families requires the development of partnerships with other agencies. FSNEP has worked with over 179 different community groups and agencies throughout California.


Supporting Unit: UC Davis Department of Nutrition

Amy Block Joy, Specialist in Cooperative Extension
FSNEP Program Director
Department of Nutrition, UC Davis
(530) 752-7959; abjoy@ucdavis.edu