Healthy Eating Strategy #1: Increase Participation in Government-Sponsored Nutrition Programs

Our Healthier Communities Initiatives are built on the concept that local communities can work together to give all community members healthy choices and support the pursuit of healthy lifestyles.  More than 160 Ys are working in collaboration with community leaders to make changes in policies and the physical surroundings in those communities so that healthy living is within reach for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.




Healthy Eating Strategy #1: Increase Participation in Government-Sponsored Nutrition Programs

Government-sponsored nutrition programs have a wide reach to low-income populations. Studies have found that strategies focusing on program enhancements increased participation in government-sponsored programs.

 

Government-sponsored nutrition programs—such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP); and Summer Food Service Program—have a wide reach to low-income populations, enhancing nutrition education and access to healthy food. Studies have found that strategies focusing on program enhancements such as simplifying the application process, improving outreach and nutrition education, providing coupons for use at farmers’ markets, and making Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) machines more widely available increased participation in government-sponsored programs. For example, significantly more children participated in the Summer Nutrition Program in states where the reporting process was streamlined. In addition, policies that reduced reporting requirements increased eligibility for, and participation in, government-sponsored nutrition programs. One could expect subsequent increases in healthy food consumption that would result in improved health in the long term.




References

  1. Conrey, E., Frongillo, E., Dollahite, J., & Griffin, M. (2003). Integrated program enhancements increased utilization of farmers' market nutrition program. Journal of Nutrition, 133, 1841–1844.
  2. Food Research and Action Center. (2008). Hunger doesn’t take a vacation: Summer nutrition status report 2008. Washington, DC.
  3. Rose, D., Habicht, J-P., & Devaney, B. (1998). Household participation in the Food Stamp and WIC programs increases the nutrient intakes of preschool children. The Journal of Nutrition, 128(3).
  4. Shak, L., Mikkelsen, L., & Chehimi, S. (2010). Recipes for change: Healthy food in every community. PolicyLink, Prevention Institute, & Convergence Partnership. http://www.preventioninstitute.org/component/jlibrary/article/id-266/127.html. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (2008). Trends in food stamp participation rates: 2000–2006 (summary). http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/FILES/Participation/Trends2000-2006.pdf. Retrieved November 15, 2010.

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