School Visit Lets Congressional Staff See SNAP-Ed in Action

12/07/2016 – Last week, the Academy arranged for three staff members of the House Committee on Agriculture to visit Washington Grove Elementary School in Montgomery County, Maryland and attend a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education session. The visit also included Academy members Erin Braunscheidel Duru, MHS, RD from the Food Supplement Nutrition Education division of the University of Maryland Extension, and Marla Caplon, RD, the director of food and nutrition services of Montgomery County Public Schools.

The visit from the House Committee on Agriculture staff was to help them withness the value of SNAP-Ed and see legislation in action, which is critical to both understanding nutrition programs and future policy writing and decision making. During the past two years, the committee has conducted a series of 18 public hearings on SNAP including a session on SNAP-Ed. Recently, the committee released a report about the findings from the hearings.

Washington Grove Elementary School is a champion in childhood nutrition efforts. They participate in SNAP-Ed for multiple grade levels, utilize a Smarter Lunchrooms design and have a school garden for student and community engagement. The visiting group had the privilege to participate in a fourth grade ReFresh nutrition education session focusing on healthy eating and family meals. Programs like these are critical in teaching healthy eating habits, developing healthy food skills and exposing young children to new fruits and vegetables.

The school is also one of the selected sites to participate in the Text2BHealthy initiative, an SMS-text based program that reaches parents through English or Spanish text messages or emails containing healthy eating and behavior messages. The program has seen incredibly positive outcomes with increases in reported daily fruit and vegetable consumption by 13 percent. Additionally, 54 percent of youth at Text2BHealthy sites reported being physically active seven or more times per week compared to just 36 percent in the control sites.