Data & Research
One activity that reflects the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) commitment to nutrition promotion is the development of State nutrition networks. Since October 1995, USDA’s Food and Consumer Service (FCS) has awarded cooperative agreements to 22 States to create nutrition networks that would develop innovative, large-scale, and sustainable approaches to providing nutrition education to low-income families that participate or are eligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). Twelve States entered into agreements with FCS in 1995. In 1996, ten more States signed agreements. These agreements fund State-level nutrition education networks of State and local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and representatives of private industry. The purpose of the networks is to coordinate the delivery of nutrition education messages to the low-income population eligible for food stamps. In the past, some people participating in the FSP received nutrition education through individual counseling or classes. Now, FCS is promoting a new approach, designed to reach many more FSP participants and to bring about positive changes in behavior more effectively. The cooperative agreements provide States with resources to recruit network members, develop network membership, and create a nutrition education plan that is linked to social marketing technique.
The WIC Nutrition Education Demonstration Study was conducted by Abt Associates, Inc. for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The study evaluated the effectiveness of three innovative approaches to nutrition education in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Two of these education innovations were designed for educating prenatal women; the third focused on nutrition education for 3- and 4-year-old WIC participants. This executive summary and report describe the evaluation and results of the educational interventions for prenatal women.
In 1994, FNS initiated the WIC Nutrition Education Demonstration Study. The demonstration had two components: a comparison of the effects of innovative and traditional WIC nutrition education for prenatal participants; and a study of the feasibility and effectiveness of providing nutrition education to preschool (three-and-four-year-old) WIC participants. The report summarized here describes the design and implementation of the child nutrition education demonstration and presents findings describing the effectiveness of the demonstration.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is frequently asked, by a variety of nutrition education partners, how it defines a sound impact evaluation. The principles introduced here describe the characteristics of strong impact assessments of nutrition education. They are also consistent with the Government and Performance Results Act and the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance for clear demonstration of program effects.
Nutrition Education and Promotion: The Role of FNS in Helping Low-Income Families Make Healthier Eating and Lifestyle Choices - A Report to Congress
This report responds to the charge in the explanatory statement of Chairman Obey, entered into the Congressional Record Feb. 23, 2009, regarding the request from Congress in the conference report for the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 111–8). The conference report included the following directive:
SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed) is the nutrition education and obesity prevention component of SNAP; its goal is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make nutritious food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA food guidance.
This report fulfills the request from Congress in the House Appropriations Committee Report (House Report 107-116), which accompanied the Agriculture Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2002. The conference report included the following statement: “The nutritional status of our young people is a matter of public health. The Committee expects the Department to build upon work already done with the food pyramid, and other innovative national and local efforts. Nutrition information should be carefully reviewed so that a consistent and coordinated message is disseminated. Existing opportunities to convey nutrition messages, including newsletters, static displays in cafeterias, in-school and cable television productions should be used to the maximum extent possible. The committee directs the Department to provide a report regarding the development and implementation of this effort by February 1, 2002."
This report is a census of women, infants, and children who were participating in the WIC program in April, 2012. The report includes information on participant income and nutrition risk characteristics, and estimates breastfeeding initiation rates for WIC infants.
The national nutrition safety net consists of 15 programs that provide millions of low-income Americans access to a healthy and nutritious diet. It has been observed that many low-income individuals are both overweight and participants in one or more nutrition assistance programs. This has led some to question whether participation in the nutrition assistance programs contributes to the growing problem of overweight and obesity. This report presents the conclusions of an expert panel convened by the Food and Nutrition Service to determine if there is scientific evidence of a relationship between program participation and excess weight.
The WIC and Head Start programs share common goals. Both programs strive to promote positive health and nutrition status for young families. Both programs provide young children and families with nutritious foods, health and nutrition education, and assistance in accessing on-going preventive health care. In many communities, WIC and Head Start serve the same families. By working together, programs have an opportunity to coordinate these services and maximize use of scarce resources (e.g., funding, staff, space). Working together can mean minimizing duplicative efforts on the part of families and staff; more opportunities for WIC and Head Start to benefit from each program’s strengths, expertise and best practices; and ultimately, more ways to make a positive impact on good health and nutrition for children and families.