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The goal of the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (FSNEP) is to increase the likelihood that Food Stamp recipients make healthy food choices within their limited food budget. Initiated in 1997, the focus of the Rhode Island FSNEP has been to improve the dietary quality of Food Stamp eligible Rhode Island families and individuals by providing them the skills, information, and motivation they need to support healthy eating consistent with federal dietary guidelines (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA Food Guide Pyramid).

Approximately 34,000 households in Rhode Island receive Food Stamps. Recipients frequently report that their Food Stamps run out by the third week of the month and they have to rely on emergency food programs to make it through the month. The poverty rate and subsequent demand for emergency food has increased as the loss of manufacturing jobs in the state has given way to lower paying, service sector jobs, leaving many families struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table.

Using a social marketing approach within the mass transit system, carefully crafted nutrition messages have been delivered by means of bus stop shelter posters in target neighborhoods, interior and exterior bus posters, interior digital messaging, local news media, toll-free hotline, and nutrition education materials developed to deliver campaign messages. These include:

  • Strategies to simplify and improve meal planning and food shopping/budgeting
  • Strategies to improve dietary quality by increasing fruit, vegetable and calcium consumption and encouraging a fat moderate, high fiber (plant-based) diet
  • Information on safe selection, storage, and home preparation of nutritious foods
  • Local opportunities to improve food access and extend food resources

In addition, over the years program activities and educational efforts have expanded substantially to include the Public Library system, the women's correctional system, Food Stamp offices, health centers, and other agencies whose clientele are comprised of limited resource families and individuals.

Related Links
University of Rhode Island URI Cooperative Extension Senior Nutrition Awareness Program (SNAP)
Food Stamp Nutrition Connection USDA Foodstamp Program

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