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July 13, 2012
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Ky. health departments to offer nutrition education program for students

School nutrition program supported by $6 million federal grant

The goal of this school nutrition education program is to improve the likelihood that individuals eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyle.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 13, 2012) — Beginning Oct. 1, 2012, Kentucky’s local health departments, in partnership with the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health, will offer nutrition education specifically targeted for students in Kentucky’s public schools.

This nutrition education program will be supported by a $6 million grant the Department for Community Based Services has received from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the federal agency that administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program.

“Providing proper nutrition education to students at an early age will go a long way to help combat Kentucky’s high obesity rates,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “The earlier we can reach children and teach the importance of proper nutrition and physical activity, the greater the likelihood they will adopt a lifetime of healthy eating and active living.”

The goal of this school nutrition education program is to improve the likelihood that individuals eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA food guidance. Grant dollars may also be used to provide other nutrition services within the local health departments, senior citizen centers, health fairs and others offered by community partners.

“Sometimes children can be the best teachers, so our hope is that they will pass on to their parents some of what they have learned at school about the importance of nutrition and physical activity,” said Teresa James, acting commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services. “If children ask their parents to serve more fruits and vegetables, or take a walk instead of watching TV and the parents comply, this effort can benefit the entire household — just look at the influence children have had on recycling.”

The SNAP-Ed nutrition education program will have two primary goals:

•  Encourage individuals who are eligible for SNAP benefits to establish healthy eating habits and a physically active lifestyle; and

•  Prevent or postpone the onset of diet-related chronic diseases for individuals with high-risk factors by establishing healthier eating habits and being more physically active.

The cabinet hopes to achieve these goals by encouraging students to adopt the following behaviors and practices supported by FNS:

•  Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, at least half your grains whole grains, and switch to fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;

•  Increase physical activity and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors as part of a healthy lifestyle; and

•  Maintain appropriate calorie balance during each stage of life — childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and advanced age.

“With a presence in all 120 counties, our local health departments are the largest health delivery system in the Commonwealth and are uniquely qualified to provide proper nutrition education to Kentucky students,” said Dr. Steve Davis, acting commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “Prevention is a key goal of any health care delivery system and our local health departments have nutritionists, health educators and nurses on staff to help educate students about making choices that will provide them with the foundation for a healthier life.”

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