Federal nutrition education programs have improved healthy habits among Americans in the U.S. Southeast, according to researchers at the Public Health Institute. Their recent study aggregated feedback from families and adults who participated in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) in 2017.

The federally-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food-purchasing support for low-income Americans. SNAP also offers nutrition education programs, known as SNAP-Ed. The goal of SNAP-Ed is to help individuals with limited budgets follow healthy diets based on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

SNAP-Ed has two components. The first is direct nutrition education, which includes social media tips and cooking classes. The second focuses on long-term policy, system, and environmental (PSE) changes, like stocking vending machines with healthier snacks or banning soda in schools.

After SNAP-Ed intervention, participants are significantly more likely to consume more than one kind of fruit and one kind of vegetable each day. SNAP-Ed participants are also more likely to choose healthy foods, read nutrition facts, not run out of food before the month’s end, compare prices, and shop with a grocery list.

The study calculates that in 2017, SNAP-Ed agencies in the Southeast implemented more than 700 PSE changes, which reached over 830,000 people. These changes include increasing the availability of fresh produce, prioritizing farm-to-table foods, creating edible gardens, and adopting healthier school wellness policies.

Read the full article about SNAP-Ed by Amy Martin at Food Tank.