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P144 A Comprehensive Community Partnership Model for Improving Nutrition Among SNAP-Eligible Families in Early Education Settings

      Objective

      One in 4 U.S. children are overweight or obese before they reach kindergarten. Early intervention encourages the development of positive behaviors, including healthy eating, that are necessary for young children's healthy growth, development and prevention from chronic diseases. This model highlights an innovative community partnership model to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables among low-income preschool families.

      Use of Theory or Research

      Maryland SNAP-Ed implements an innovative partnership model with multilevel interventions for children and their families; as well as policy, systems, and physical environment (PSE) changes which target each level of the socio-ecological model.

      Target Audience

      Low-income preschool children and their families in Howard County, Maryland.

      Program Description

      This unique collaboration with the county school system; Head Start; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; Food Bank; Farmers’ Markets; and the Local Health Improvement Coalition leverages resources to improve access to and consumption of healthy foods. Children and families receive nutrition education and exposure to programs linking to gardens, the grocery store, and farmers’ markets.

      Evaluation Methods

      Maryland SNAP-Ed's comprehensive evaluation model assesses individual-level impacts through participant surveys and PSE changes through post-program year reports.

      Results

      Maryland SNAP-Ed programming is associated with improved individual health behaviors, including increased consumption and purchasing of healthy foods. Early education sites in Howard County have also established health-promoting PSEs, such as healthy classroom celebrations, limited availability of sugar-sweetened beverages, and increased variety of healthy foods offered during family events and on-site food pantries, that encourage positive nutrition behaviors.

      Conclusions

      Maryland SNAP-Ed's holistic approach with multiple county collaborators establishes a sustainable county-wide framework that increases access to fruits and vegetables for preschool families. This poster shares a detailed sustainable approach for others to replicate.

      Funding

      Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education.
      Funding None.

      Appendix. Supplementary data