UGA SNAP-Ed Team Recognized as Part of 30 Year Celebration

June 5 – ATHENS – The UGA SNAP-Ed program, working in collaboration with UGA Extension and a network of federal, state and local resources, is a vital part of the national mission to eliminate health disparities related to diet and physical activity among low-income Georgians.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education, or SNAP-Ed, was launched in 1992 as the nutrition education arm of SNAP, the nation’s oldest and largest nutrition assistance program providing economic benefits to low-income individuals and families.

Formerly known as the Food Stamp Family Nutrition and Nutrition Education Program, the program that began with only seven states providing nutrition education is now in its 30th year and is active in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and Guam.

The programme, which includes a multidisciplinary research and outreach team of faculty, staff and students from three universities, reaches more than 3 million low-income Georgians annually through four main interventions.

As part of the 30th anniversary celebration, the UGA SNAP-Ed team was recently highlighted by the National SNAP-Ed Program webinar series for its innovative Food e-Talk curriculum, an online nutrition education program based on smartphones that was released in 2020.

“It’s exciting to see UGA SNAP-Ed highlighted and honored as part of the 30-year celebration,” said Allisen Penn, associate dean for outreach and outreach in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “UGA SNAP-Ed has the nation’s first evidence-based online asynchronous curriculum. Innovations developed by principal investigator Jung Sun Lee and the UGA SNAP-Ed team increase healthy eating behaviors and reduce obesity among clientele SNAP in Georgia and report to SNAP-Ed nationwide.

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“We look forward to our continued achievements as we strive to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles and advance health equity for Georgians in the years to come,” said Professor Jung Sun Lee.

Funded by the US Department of Agriculture since 2013, the UGA program focuses on four approaches to achieve its goals of helping low-income Georgians prevent obesity:

— Face-to-face or virtual nutrition education programs based on three curricula: “Food Talk”, “Food Talk: Better U” and “Food Talk: Farmers Market”, using a model of paraprofessional peer educators in 11 urban centers and rural. counties;

— “Food eTalk” and “Food eTalk: Better U” mobile-friendly online eLearning nutrition education in all 159 Georgia counties;

— Social marketing “Food Talk” and “Drink Water, Georgia!” e-newsletter, social media, and text message campaigns that promote culturally appropriate healthy eating and physical activity messages available in all counties in Georgia;

— Policy, Systems, and Environment (PSE) change interventions, including “Healthy Child Care Georgia” in four counties, “Food As Real Medicine Prescription (FARM Rx)” in Clarke County, and the “4-H Farm to Fork” program in Jackson and Turner counties, which combine PSE approaches and direct nutrition education that addresses socioeconomic factors by making healthy options more accessible.

In 2021, 1,225 low-income Georgians participated in the Food eTalk program, with 82% of participants reporting that they planned to eat more fruits and vegetables and 79% planned to reduce portion sizes.

Of the 439 participants in the Food Talk and Food Talk: Better U programs, 59% reported better nutrition practices and 54% more days of cardio or weight lifting.

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“With continued efforts to establish effective SNAP-Ed implementation models, UGA SNAP-Ed was able to continue programming during the pandemic and times of social distancing, reach priority audiences across the state, and help participants improve the dietary intake, food resource management and physical activity practice,” Lee said.

In addition to the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, faculty from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences participate in the UGA program.

The UGA SNAP-Ed team also includes 12 grant-funded staff members, four FACS Outreach Program Development Coordinators, seven FACS Outreach Agents, 14 paraprofessionals or peer educators, and one FACS Educator. UGA SNAP-Ed has received more than $26 million in funding since its founding in 2013. The program has published 21 articles in peer-reviewed journals, made 55 presentations at national, regional, and state conferences, and has received three national awards for excellence.

“UGA SNAP-Ed’s accomplishments would not have been possible without the wonderful support of our sponsors and the hard work of all the faculty, staff and graduate students involved,” said Lee. “We look forward to our continued achievements as we strive to promote healthy eating and active lifestyles and advance health equity for Georgians for years to come.”