Nutrition Education and Promotion: The Role of FNS in Helping Low-Income Families Make Healthier Eating and Lifestyle Choices - A Report to Congress
This report responds to the charge in the explanatory statement of Chairman Obey, entered into the Congressional Record Feb. 23, 2009, regarding the request from Congress in the conference report for the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (PL 111–8). The conference report included the following directive:
FNS is frequently asked, by a variety of nutrition education partners, how it defines a sound impact evaluation. The principles introduced here describe the characteristics of strong impact assessments of nutrition education. They are also consistent with the Government and Performance Results Act and the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance for clear demonstration of program effects.
The national nutrition safety net consists of 15 programs that provide millions of low-income Americans access to a healthy and nutritious diet. It has been observed that many low-income individuals are both overweight and participants in one or more nutrition assistance programs. This has led some to question whether participation in the nutrition assistance programs contributes to the growing problem of overweight and obesity. This report presents the conclusions of an expert panel convened by the Food and Nutrition Service to determine if there is scientific evidence of a relationship between program participation and excess weight.
FNS launched the Eat Smart. Play Hard. campaign to promote USDA’s healthy eating and physical activity messages to children ages 2–18 and their caregivers. This campaign is an FNS agency-wide initiative and represents the latest effort by FNS to meet its strategic goal of improving the nutrition of children and low-income adults while at the same time addressing the major public health issue of the increasing prevalence of obesity among our nation’s youth.
This report fulfills a Congressional request for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to report on "a comprehensive, integrated approach to nutrition education as a complement to the various nutrition assistance programs." FNS reviewed its current nutrition education efforts, and consulted with a wide range of nutrition education experts and stakeholders.
One activity that reflects USDA’s commitment to nutrition promotion is the development of state nutrition networks. Since October 1995, USDA’s Food and Consumer Service has awarded cooperative agreements to 22 states to create nutrition networks that would develop innovative, large-scale and sustainable approaches to providing nutrition education to low-income families that participate or are eligible to participate in the Food Stamp Program.