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SCIENCE UPDATE

Idaho food stamp recipients to benefit
from revamped program

by MARY ANN REESE


Eat Smart IdahoUI EXTENSION’S NUTRITION program for food stamp recipients is being revamped in 2013 with hopes of better serving increasing numbers of Idahoans.

Those eligible for federally funded food dollars earn less than $14,570 a year, the federal poverty level for a household of two.

In 2011, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service reported 228,629 Idaho residents received food stamps, a 151 percent increase over participants in 2006.

UI Extension’s decades-old nutrition education program in 37 of Idaho’s 44 counties has always aimed to help food stamp recipients make healthier food choices and stretch their food stamp dollars.

“Maintaining a healthier population saves Idaho millions of dollars a year in Medicaid costs alone. That’s important,” says Paul McCawley, Moscow, associate director of UI Extension and nutrition education revamp coordinator.

A 2012 pre- and post-education study of six Idaho nutrition programs showed 25 percent to 50 percent of participants adopted healthier diets, including eating more fruit and fresh vegetables.

“Participants also had incorporated more activity into their lives at least six weeks after our series of four one-hour workshops ended,” said McCawley, who added that these data are “encouraging indicators that health care costs are being reduced.” Other studies showed that the four one-hour programs held during consecutive weeks were more likely to result in behavior change than briefer, one-time programs.

Free, a new name, new statewide curriculum

To increase visibility, a zippier new name—Eat Smart Idaho—replaces prior program names ENP (Extension Nutrition Program) and EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program). Statewide, a curriculum successful in California and Colorado is now in use.

UI Extension educators hire, train, and pay a total of 21 nutrition advisers—recruited from Idaho’s low-income populations—to conduct workshops statewide.

For more details contact McCawley at mccawley@uidaho.edu or these UI Extension educators: Tracy Green, Pocatello, tracyg@uidaho.edu; Bridget Morrisroe-Aman, Caldwell, bridgeta@uidaho.edu; Cammie Jayo, Twin Falls, cjayo@uidaho.edu, or Kali Gardiner, Coeur d’Alene, kalig@uidaho.edu.

Eat Smart Idaho

 

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