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UC-FSNEP: Fifteen years of nutrition education to California's families

The Issue

Poverty in California is at 13.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census Community Survey published in September 2009. Combined with current economic challenges, this vulnerable population is at risk for food insecurity. The UC-Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (UC-FSNEP) helps low-income families make healthy food choices, stretch food dollars and increase consumption of California’s agricultural products. UC Cooperative Extension academics and nutrition educators also evaluate educational methods and outreach strategies used with families at risk.

What Has ANR Done?

UC-FSNEP is one of the university's largest and most diverse community education programs for low-income and high-risk families. Administered by the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and UC Cooperative Extension in 35 California counties, it reaches a diverse group of more than 220,000 individuals annually. Since 1995 it has delivered science-based education to help food stamp families achieve nutrition and physical activity goals consistent with the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid. ANR curricula are delivered by advisors and nutrition educators who are sensitive to the needs of low income communities across California's diverse population groups. Objectives are to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, reduce soda and fat intake, promote physical activity, encourage food safety measures and examine possible links between obesity, hunger and nutrition practices.

The Payoff

Limited income families learn to eat healthy foods at lower cost

UC-FSNEP has been transformational for many California Cooperative Extension programs, offering opportunities for applied research, creative activities and stable funding for more than 15 years. It received close to $50 million in matching funds in the last decade. Direct nutrition education activities have reached almost 700,000 adult and youth. Of this number, about 140,000 adults and 80,000 children and youth were served in 2009. Since 1998, UC-FSNEP used pre/post Food Behavior Checklist indicators to evaluate adult graduates. Data for 6,488 multi-ethnic adults in 2009 showed increases in acceptable practices in nutrition from 17 percent to 47 percent, money management 22 percent to 54 percent, food safety 38 percent to 74 percent, and all three indicators 4 percent to 29 percent. These findings show UC-FSNEP advisors and nutrition educators in California are helping families change food behaviors by making healthy choices, spending food dollars wisely and preventing illness from eating unsafe foods.


Supporting Unit: Alameda County

College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences UC-FSNEP Program
David Ginsburg, (530) 752-0555, dcginsburg@ucdavis.edu
Mary L. Blackburn, (510) 639-1274, mlblackburn@ucdavis.edu