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Understanding the ways we are making a difference

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Who we are and what we do are relevant in the lives of over 70,000 Minnesotans. School-aged children to older adults connect with our county-based Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs). Together, they engage in one of 4,000+ interactive, research-based educational offerings annually through the SNAP-Ed program. Our program aims to improve the health and well-being of our participants by developing positive attitudes and skills around healthy food and lifestyle choices.

In order to understand the program effects and determine its impact, in 2011 we began to explore the program components that contribute to participant change. What are some ways, besides a participant survey, that program impact can be determined? Is our program able to create long term behavior change in those we serve? Can an educational program based on successful nutrition education implementation and programming be helpful in making these long term behavior changes?


The Extension Center for Family Development adapted our evidence-informed program called Go Wild with Fruits and Vegetables to create an Optimal Learning Program for this study. The curriculum integrates content, activities, and take-homes:

  • Key health and nutrition content about fruits and vegetables
  • Activities designed to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary lifestyles
  • Take-home healthy lifestyle activities for participants to complete with their families.

Curriculum for each Go Wild with Fruits and Vegetables session included a manual, in-class activity, didactic materials, and a take-home activity.

We began with a study of youth participants Fall 2012. We targeted 3rd graders, the lowest grade level that programming normally begins, at twenty-three school sites across Minnesota. Our CNEs implemented the Go Wild program in half the schools in the fall (intervention), and will be delivering the program in the rest this spring (delayed control).

Our community collaborators have been collecting baseline, post test, and follow-up data throughout the year:

  • Giving each student a pedometer to wear for a week
  • Administering a survey about how they've been eating and moving
  • Measuring heights and weights

Our final data collection point will be in the fall of 2013. Then we will be able to understand the changes on fruit and vegetable intake, as well as physical activity levels of students before, after, and several months after learning to Go Wild with Fruits and Vegetables.

For more about the Go Wild curriculum, visit our website. For more about the SNAP-Ed Impact Study, contact Kit Alviz at alviz002@umn.edu.

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