SNAP-Ed: Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention

SNAP-Ed: Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention

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.

Food Insecurity and Hunger 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
  • Anxiety
  • Higher rates of obesity

Adults without enough nutritious food are more likely to experience:

  • Mental health issues
  • Obesity 
  • 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. 

Click Here to View the Food Resources for Families Grid

The Vermont Food and Health Program Inventory in an inventory of a variety of programs across Vermont that address the intersection of food and health, from community-based nutrition education programs to a hospital supporting a community cold storage facility. It also identifies social determinants of health the programs address, and those that have an intended outcome of increasing consumption of local food. 


Vermont SNAP-Ed in Action

The Health Department grants money to Vermont organizations to carry out nutrition education, physical activity, 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 the Barre, Bennington, Brattleboro, Newport, Rutland, St. Albans and St. Johnsbury district areas.

Vermont's SNAP-Ed program funds:

Hunger Free Vermont

  • The Smarter Lunchroom Movement, SML: endorses strategies based on principles of behavioral economics. The intervention is comprised of a series of low-cost strategies designed to encourage students to choose the healthy option in the cafeteria. Opportunities are identified through a self-assessment ‘scorecard,’ action plans are developed, strategies are set in motion and subsequently evaluated for their effectiveness.
  • 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.

Vermont Food Bank 

  • VT Fresh -  offers 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 - offers highly colorful and visible signs and displays, and policies to encourage customers to take and use more fruits and vegetables at home.

Come Alive Outside

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.

UVM Extension offers Families Eating Smart Moving More, a self-led and delivered online interactive series. Each of its six online video lessons is about 30-45 minutes in length, and is broken into: short nutrition concept instruction, recipe instruction and physical activity videos. Participation in the nutrition education series is augmented with personalized phone or video sessions to support individual family food and nutrition needs. In the Fall of 2020 UVM Extension will pilot a texting program, Text2BHeathy, to supplement the online learning. 
Vermont Nutrition Education Committee (VNEC)

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 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