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Health and Nutrition Programs

Healthy Eating on a Budget


To improve knowledge, skills, attitudes and healthful behaviors among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients and those eligible for SNAP benefits.


Poor health disproportionately affects minority and low-income U.S. populations. The 2012 American Community Survey data shows Nevada’s poverty estimate to be 16 percent. According to Nevada’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey (total n=3,913), of the respondents with incomes less than $25,000 per year, 14 percent have been told by a doctor they have coronary heart disease, 21 percent have been told they have diabetes, 68 percent are overweight, and 47 percent are obese. Low-income families are the most vulnerable to both undernutrition and overconsumption. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans specifically emphasizes consumption of low-fat, nutrient-dense foods, limited sugars and increased physical activity. In contrast, food consumption research shows low-income families often consume low-cost, high-fat, high-calorie foods that provide more calories for less money.


The number of total SNAP participants increased in Nevada by 4.7 percent in 2014, with 375,506 people participating in SNAP in Nevada each month. Demographics of those participants included: 46 percent were under the age of 18, 17 percent were under the age of 5, and 9 percent were 60 years of age or older. White (non-Hispanic) participants made up the largest percentage of SNAP participants at 37 percent, while Hispanic participants were reported at 30 percent and Black (non-Hispanic) participants were reported at 22 percent. SNAP participation in 2015 has continued to increase and year-to-date includes 7.6 percent more participants than in 2014.

Healthy Eating on a Budget partners with the Nevada Department of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS) in conjunction with their job readiness to provide nutrition education to those receiving SNAP benefits. Participants learn how to select a nutritious diet, use food resources efficiently to prevent food insecurity, and maintain food safety.

What Has Been Done:

Since its inception in 2012, 593 SNAP recipients have graduated from the eight-lesson Healthy Eating on a Budget Program. The program has been conducted at three Las Vegas DWSS locations, one DWSS location in Reno, and four community sites in Lincoln County. To date, 381 individual education classes have been conducted with SNAP recipients and those eligible for SNAP benefits.


Program entry and exit evaluation data has shown that 89 percent of participants improved their nutrition practices (planning meals, making health food choices, preparing foods without salt, reading nutrition labels) 78 percent of participants improved their food resource management practices (comparing prices, not running out of food, using grocery lists) and 65 percent improved their safe food handling skills (storing and thawing food properly).


Program partners have included the Nevada Department of Welfare and Supportive Services in Las Vegas and Reno, the Caliente Senior Center, the Pahranagat Valley Senior Center, the Panaca Fire Station/Hall and the Pioche Fire Station/Hall.

Contact: Aurora Buffington, Ph.D., 702-257-5534

Health and Nutrition Programs

Programs Program Information

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.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

The mission of Nevada’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is to assist families with limited financial resources. Through educational support and experiential learning, the families acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and changed behavior to improve their nutritional and health status in order to prevent chronic disease and enhance family well-being. Practical application allows learners to see the relevance of information to their daily lives.

Food Safety Project

Grow Yourself Healthy

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


Healthy Kids Festival

The goal of the Healthy Kids Festival is to provide sustainable tools and opportunities for low income families with young children (ages 3-8) to make healthy choices as he/she approaches the adolescent years. The event, hosted by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s All 4 Kids program in collaboration with local community partners provides long term solutions to childhood obesity through physical activity, healthy eating and other behaviors related to childhood obesity prevention.

Healthy Steps to Freedom

Alcohol and drug addiction are serious, chronic and relapsing health problems for both women and men of all ages and backgrounds. Leading to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse often precipitates violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, motor vehicle crashes, homelessness, rising health care costs and obesity.

Nevada Radon Education Program

The Nevada Radon Education Program is a partnership with the Nevada State Health Division to educate Nevadans about the possible health risk posed by elevated levels of radon in the home. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) offers literature, educational programs and radon test kits in many county Extension offices.

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.

Small Steps 4 Big Changes

Parent involvement is recognized as a key factor in making wise food selections and shaping food and health behavior attitudes that affect the child’s habits and food preferences. Conducted in partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program, a series of ten nutrition lessons incorporate recipe preparation, food sampling and physical activity segments, with additional nutrition education content for the parent or adult caregiver. All lesson segments are focused on thriving within a limited budget, as well as increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This program has been successfully offered to five Reno Housing Authority (RHA) and other 4-H After School Program sites since the initial launch of the pilot program. The program fosters behavior changes identified by the Centers for Disease Control as being linked to childhood obesity prevention.

Team Nutrition “Smart Choices”

This program strives to address the public health issue of childhood obesity through building basic skills related to food selection and promoting an increased variety of nutritious foods consumed especially vegetables and fruits.

Veggies for Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) Veggies for Kids program takes a proactive approach toward eating and experiencing different kinds of vegetables for American Indian children at a young age.