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Clark County Programs

Pick a better snack™ (formerly Chefs for Kids)

This evidence-based campaign focuses on building fruit and vegetable consumption in children through healthy snacking. Pick a better snack™ is a monthly, in-school nutrition education program for primary grade children in at-risk elementary schools in Clark and Washoe counties in Nevada. In addition to direct instruction, staff works with school wellness coordinators to build meaningful and sustainable programming to create a well environment in every school.

Issue

Childhood and adolescence are the critical periods for development of good health practices. Many health behaviors established in childhood persist into adulthood. Because many chronic diseases are attributable to poor diet, physical inactivity and over/underweight, it is essential to start good health practices as early as possible. Proper nutrition is essential to a child’s physical, mental and cognitive development.

Although strong programs to build healthful eating and physical activity practices reduce the burden of chronic disease, there are very few programs teaching nutrition practices to children. Pick a better snack™ fills this gap, teaching second and third grade students the basic skills needed to make these healthful choices.

Individuals (including children) from lower socio-economic status are more likely to be obese or overweight than those of higher socio-economic status. As a group, Mexican American boys tend to have a higher incidence of overweight than non-Hispanic white or non-Hispanic black boys; and non-Hispanic black girls tend to have a higher prevalence of overweight than Mexican American or non-Hispanic white girls. Nevada consistently ranks among those states with the poorest self-reported eating and activity practices.

What Has Been Done

Every month, Cooperative Extension educators teach children about choosing foods that provide the greatest benefit to their bodies and the importance of physical activity. The curriculum reflects the essential experiences necessary for second and third graders as outlined in the standards of the Nevada Department of Education. The campaign includes in-class lessons on individual fruits and vegetables and includes a brief physical activity component in each lesson as well. Pick a better snack™ promotes health practices engendering lifelong, healthy lifestyles in children. These practices can lower risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases. In addition to direct education, wellness efforts are implemented throughout the school year with Smarter Lunchroom assessments, signage promoting healthy foods and physical activity; wellness events such as field day activities, Jump Rope for Heart, cooperation with school gardens; yoga classes, etc. Monthly Bingo cards and topical newsletters, written in both English and Spanish, are given to families to expand instruction into the home.

Chefs for Kids volunteers donate more than 3,000 hours yearly to prepare breakfasts for the children and raise funds to support the program. The Pick a better snack™/Chefs for Kids Program has reached more than 62,390 students since its inception 27 years ago. The program is offered in 14 schools in Clark County and three schools in Washoe County.

Impact

  • 39% of students reported increasing their fruit consumption
  • 46% of students reported increasing vegetable consumption
  • 76% of parents stated that their children were more willing to try new fruits and vegetables than they were previously
  • Fliers persuaded parents to purchase more fruits and vegetables than they normally did
  • Parent comments on the nutrition education program were quite positive.
    • “My son came home and asked me to buy eggplant! Great program for the kids. Thank you!”
    • “It was so good to try new things.”
    • “You teach her and she works hard on me and she works hard on me and my calories.”
    • “This really helped my picky eater try new foods. Thank you!”
    • “My son loves the nutrition class! We work on being more aware of nutrition facts and how many fruits and vegetables we eat. Thank you.”

Partners

Chefs for Kids Foundation, ACF Chefs Las Vegas, USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Private Donations

Printable Program Impact

Contacts:

Programs Program Information

4-H Youth Development

4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.

All 4 Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by Cooperative Extension faculty from maternal/child nutrition, exercise physiology and child development, the All 4 Kids program helps children meet the Nevada Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Standards while encouraging preschool children and families to practice healthy eating habits and be active every day.

Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A Workforce Readiness Program

The Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A workforce readiness program for high school students focused on skill development for workplace and job success. Career Edge helps high school students prepare to get their first "paying" job while working toward their dream job or career. Career Edge provides information and training on interview skills, résumé development, filling out applications, finding job leads and selecting appropriate clothing for the workplace. In addition, many "soft skills" needed in the workplace such as decision-making, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership are integrated throughout the program.

Commercial Landscape Horticulture

Thistles prepared for the “Noxious Weeds and Weed Law” green industry class

Desert Green, Commercial Water Conservation Training

Desert Green is in its eleventh year and is designed to educate commercial clientele in the Green Industry as well as others who have an interest in water conservation issues. A committee representing the industry implements the training. Desert Green is chaired by one industry representative and one UNCE representative. The program is presented once a year, with 36 classes taught in a two-day period. A committee of industry representative reviews evaluations from the previous year to decide future educational direction and topics. During the evaluation process, the program is reviewed, modified and revised according to the needs of the clientele. As part of the marketing of this program, two articles citing the importance of Desert Green appear in regional trade publications.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Exploring Your True Colors: Building an Effective Team & Team Development Course

Team Development Course

Family Storyteller Literacy Program

National award-winning Family Storyteller is a literacy program aimed at encouraging and training parents to play a vital role in the literacy development of their children. Developed by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), KNPB-TV, the Washoe County libraries and Washoe County School District, the statewide program creates an opportunity for parents and young children to interact around literacy and language activities. Family Storyteller is designed especially for families that may have limited language skills and few children’s books at home.

Food for Thoughts, School Garden

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Food for Thoughts Program offers children an alternative site for learning, promotes awareness of the desert environment, demonstrates the geographic sources of their food, and encourages healthy eating and activities.

Fun To Play

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Fun To Play program targets families where, due to the young age, inexperience or limited resources of the parents, young children are placed at-risk for developmental delays and later school difficulties. Fun To Play is a series of weekly infant/child sessions aimed at improving the parenting skills of young parents by increasing the amount of learning activities and interaction they provide their children.

Healing gardens in Las Vegas

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension healing gardens essentially become outdoor sanctuaries for people who are hospitalized as well as their families and the staff that works with them.

Healthy Eating Active Living: Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys (HEAL MAPPS)

Healthy Eating Active Living: Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys (HEAL MAPPS) is a compilation of evidence-based engagement and assessment tools that is used to audit and map community environmental features that support and/or hinder healthful eating and physical activity among community members. The MAPPS method integrates photography, participatory community mapping using global positioning system (GPS) technology, and residents’ voiced perceptions of their community. HEAL MAPPS engages people in community-based participatory research to document attributes of the rural community environment that are perceived by residents as obesity preventing or promoting and assess the local resources and readiness to implement community-level obesity prevention strategies to prevent unhealthy weight gain/overweight and obesity among children and their families.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

The Healthy Eating on a Budget program has been integrated into the TANF Work Readiness workshop as a SNAP-Ed program. The purpose of the 8-lesson series is to provide SNAP recipients with education on healthy nutrition and physical activity practices, food resource management, food safety and food security.

Healthy Steps to Freedom

Spinach Chicken Pomegranate salad

Keeping Kids Safe: Recognizing, Reporting and Responding to Child Maltreatment

young girl sitting at desk in empty classroom

Little Books and Little Cooks

Children scooping soil from a wheelbarrow into a carton

Living With Fire

Be Ember Aware publication

Master Gardeners in Nevada

 A bumblebee pollinating a yellow flower

Nevada Naturalist

Women kneeling near animal tracks on a trail

Pick a better snack™ (formerly Chefs for Kids)

This evidence-based campaign focuses on building fruit and vegetable consumption in children through healthy snacking. Pick a better snack™ is a monthly, in-school nutrition education program for primary grade children in at-risk elementary schools in Clark and Washoe counties in Nevada. In addition to direct instruction, staff works with school wellness coordinators to build meaningful and sustainable programming to create a well environment in every school.

Statewide Programs *Statewide programs may not be available in all counties

Programs Program Information
Cattlemen’s Update
Food Safety Project
Grow Your Own, Nevada
Herds and Harvest
Integrated Riparian Management/Creeks and Communities
Invasive Species (Weeds)
Nevada Radon Education Program
Nevada State GEAR UP
Nevada Youth Range Camp
People of the Land
Pesticide Safety Education Program
Risk Management
Stronger Economies Together
Weed Prevention and Management
Youth for the Quality Care of Animals