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Programs

Health and Nutrition 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: Susan Lednicky, Program Officer, 702-257-5548,
Aurora Buffington, Faculty Instructor
Cathy Baptista, Community Based Instructor, 702-940-5426,
Crystal Momii, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5591,
Debbie Presto, Community Based Instructor, 775-784-4848,
LaShuna Proctor, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5569,
Elizabeth Mapula

Health and Nutrition Programs

Programs Program Information

All 4 Kids

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s (UNCE) All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by UNCE 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

Objective:

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.