SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a federal program that helps low-income individuals and families with food assistance. In Vermont, this program is called 3SquaresVT. SNAP-Ed is the nutrition and physical activity education side of the program.
The goal of SNAP-Ed is to help people who are eligible for 3SquaresVT have healthy food options and get regular physical activity. Poor diet and lack of physical activity, along with tobacco use, are main risk factors that can lead to four chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, lung disease), which are the cause of more than 50 percent of all deaths in Vermont. Visit 3-4-50 to learn more about chronic disease in Vermont.
According to Hunger Free Vermont, 10 percent (64,370) of Vermonters live in food insecure households, meaning they do not have regular access to nutritious food, and 14 percent (17,890) of Vermont children under the age of 18 live in food insecure households.
Children without enough nutritious food are more likely to experience:
- Difficulty learning
- Behavioral issues
- Higher rates of obesity
Adults without enough nutritious food are more likely to experience:
- Mental health issues
- Chronic diseases, such as diabetes
SNAP and SNAP-Ed help reduce food insecurity and hunger by promoting resources and helping low income individuals and families get healthy food and learn how to stretch their food dollars.
The Health Department grants money to Vermont organizations to carry out nutrition education and obesity prevention strategies in areas of high need. This includes helping SNAP-eligible individuals and families get fresh fruit and vegetables, learn how to cook with and store produce, and get more physical activity. Grantees offer programming in Barre, Bennington, Newport, Rutland and St. Johnsbury.
SNAP-Ed grants fund the programs below from grantee organizations:
- The Learning Kitchen, TLK a six-lesson nutrition and cooking education series that teaches participants how to prepare nutritious, low cost meals and make healthy choices within a limited budget.
- Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC), aids early child care centers improve policies and environments to promote healthy food and physical activity.
- Hunger Councils coordinate community efforts and build strong nutrition safety nets by convening and educating the community, and providing tools to improve nutrition and reduce hunger within communities.
- VT Fresh - offering cooking demonstrations and taste tests to promote fruit and vegetable consumption in food shelves.
- Veggie Van Go, mobile food shelf sites at hospitals and schools that offers nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, and taste tests to promote fruit and vegetable consumption.
- Food shelf changes - where highly colorful and visible signs and displays, and policies, encourage customers to take and use more fruits and vegetables at home.
Rutland’s Summer and Winter Wellness Passport Program, encouraging children and families to be physically activity throughout the community using prize incentives and a “passport” to track physical activity.
The Vermont Nutrition Education Committee (VNEC) was created to better align the goals and activities of Vermont agencies working on federal food assistance and physical activity programs. The Committee meets every other month and is made up of representatives from Women, Infants, Children Program (WIC), School Lunch and Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service, Farmers’ Market Programs, SNAP, advocate organizations, and other stakeholders participate.
The Committee’s goals are to:
- Improve coordination, partnerships and communication among federal, state and private nutrition education provider agencies and federal nutrition programs.
- Conduct statewide, cross-program nutrition education planning that promotes shared goals and integrated approaches that connect efforts and resources.
- Promote VNEC as a model for aligning programs, activities and initiatives around nutrition education and obesity prevention efforts.
SNAP-Ed tracks progress on its goals:
- SNAP-Ed Barre Profile FY17
- SNAP-Ed Bennington Profile FY17
- SNAP-Ed Newport Profile FY17
- SNAP-Ed Rutland Profile FY17
- SNAP-Ed St. Johnsbury Profile FY17
SNAP and SNAP-Ed are run by the federal Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) program. In Vermont, the Vermont Department of Health oversees SNAP-Ed. The Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) administers 3SquaresVT