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Health and Nutrition Programs

Healthy Steps to Freedom

Spinach Chicken Pomegranate salad The curriculum promotes nutrition, and participants learn about essential nutrients, meal planning, food labels and portions, calcium intake, disordered eating and more. Photo by Karolina Grabowska.

Program teaches nutrition and healthy lifestyles that address weight and energy concerns in women with substance abuse issues


Over half of the individuals in treatment for methamphetamine and other stimulants are women. Recent research shows that women mainly use methamphetamine and other stimulants to lose weight and boost energy, despite knowing that the drugs can cause organ damage, medical issues, impaired decision-making and broken familial relationships. However, most women do not know that much of the weight lost is from dehydration and loss of muscle, bone mass and other vital tissues. As a result, when women rapidly gain weight during recovery or mental health treatment due to their bodies healing, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and/or as side effects of prescribed medications, the excess gain often leads women to feelings of hopelessness and inability to control their weight. These feelings can negatively affect their mental health and lead to poor choices, such as skipping prescriptions because of the possible side effects of weight gain, or even returning to drug use to lose the weight again.

Response/What’s Been Done

Extension developed Healthy Steps to Freedom in 2007 to help women in substance abuse treatment, especially those with low energy, eating issues and weight concerns. The curriculum promotes nutrition, physical activity and body acceptance as healthy approaches to addressing weight and energy concerns. Participants learn about essential nutrients, meal planning, food labels and portions, exercise and strength activities, calcium intake, the effects of negative body image, and disordered eating. Over 2,400 adults and 1,000 youth have been reached, including 450 adults and 261 youth in 2017. The 10-week program is active in prisons and substance abuse recovery centers in Washoe and Clark Counties.

Since 2009, the program, with the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies, also gave substance abuse and mental health care providers continuing education credits and important knowledge and resources to present the program at their treatment facilities in multiple states.

Results/Impact and Partners

In 2017, 268 participants completed both pre- and post-program tests. Compared to before completing the 10-week program, after completing the program:

  • 267 participants had healthier and more realistic weight goals compared to harmfully low weight goals pre-program
  • 266 participants showed an increase in their knowledge of healthy practices
  • 215 participants reported implementing healthier behavior choices and thought processes
  • 266 participants demonstrated an improved attitude about body image and perception of one’s self
  • 267 participants paid more attention to their body’s hunger cues rather than manually tracking food intake
  • 265 participants spent more time being physically active and less time sitting

After the program, many participants implemented their newly learned healthy lifestyle behaviors at home. For women with children, making these positive changes at home also helped improve their children’s health.

Partners included the University of Nevada, Reno Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technologies; Choices Group, Inc.; Clark County Juvenile Detention Center; Nevada Department of Corrections (Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility and Jean Conservation Camp); University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and WestCare Nevada.



adults and youth have been reached


participants reported implementing healthier behavior choices and thought processes in 2017


participants demonstrated an improved attitude about body image and perception of one’s self in 2017

“Linking body image/weight issues with my addiction for the first time in my life has been extremely profound for my recovery”

— Program participant, Nevada Department of Corrections

Contact: Annie R. Lindsay, 702-940-5434

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)

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

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 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

Spinach Chicken Pomegranate salad

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.