Monday, November 17, 2014

FSNE and Me: My Rotation with Food Supplement Nutrition Education

After spending most of the internship in a clinical setting, moving on to community was quite a shock! During this rotation, I spent time in the state office, attended the FSNE fall conference, and helped educators present a variety of classes in elementary schools. Although I learned a ton, here are the top four things I learned over the past two weeks.

1) What is FSNE?

Karen reading "Up, Down, and Around" to a class of 4th grade
students participating in the "Read for Health" program.
Before my rotation, I had no idea what FSNE was all about. FSNE, or Food Supplement Nutrition Education, provides nutrition education to those receiving SNAP benefits (previously known as food stamps). Educators provide lessons to all age groups in SNAP-eligible community agencies, from schools to senior centers. These programs encourage participants to make healthy and affordable choices by providing tips, resources, and "tastings." A "tasting" provides a sample of a recipe associated with the lesson and gives the participant a chance to try a healthy item before making it at home. 

2) Kids can get excited about fruits and vegetables!

Most of my time was spent in elementary schools around Baltimore. Educators utilized story books and holidays to emphasize the importance of fruits and vegetables. After each lesson, the kids were able to taste a themed recipe. This week, we made pumpkin parfaits with yogurt, pumpkin, and pumpkin spice.

3) Documentation and Evaluation

I was surprised to learn that educators and state employees alike complete tons of documentation! Each program has a different mechanism of evaluation and documentation, ranging from class demographics to statements from participants. Pre and post evaluations are often employed to determine what each person learned from the program. These evaluations allow the state office to prove that these programs are essential in this population and petition for additional funding.

Here I am encouraging a "Read for Heath" participant to try
a new vegetable!
4) Social Media and Community Nutrition Collides!

Social media is used extensively by FSNE to reach the SNAP eligible population. From Facebook posts to Youtube videos, FSNE finds a way to provide additional nutrition tips to the community. Utilizing social media allows nutrition education to continue after programs end and draws more participants in to sign up for other programs.

Overall, my experience with FSNE was an amazing experience. I was able to see all aspects of the program by networking with educators and those who work “behind the scenes” at the state office. Good luck to the interns who are moving on to this rotation this week!

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