MOUNT VERNON — Knox County’s SNAP education program continues to expand its outreach to local schools and agencies amenable to learning about better nutrition and healthy food choices.
Tanner Cooper-Risser, who is with the Ohio State University Extension, is the county’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-ed) program assistant. He updated Knox County Commissioners last week about the program’s gains partnering with other entities. SNAP exists to improve the likelihood that people eligible for the program will make healthy food choices and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with dietary guidelines provided by the US Department of Agriculture.
Knox County SNAP-ed currently offers 12 classes per week, visiting different locations such as schools to teach students and adults about healthy food choices, Cooper-Risser said. Since October, its winter programming activities have included the Great Lakes Apple Crunch event at Pleasant Street Elementary School; Tiger Pride Club and Eagle’s Nest After School Programs; classes at Opportunity Knox and The Main Place; classes for Dan Emmett Elementary and Pleasant Street Elementary; classes for Knox County Head Start preschool rooms; and classes at SPI, the Science-Play Initiative at the Kenyon Wright Center. Summer programs are offered at Hiawatha and Riverside parks in Mount Vernon.
Snap-Ed continues to grow in Knox County because so many agencies see the value in nutrition and healthy meals and lifestyles education, Cooper-Risser said. A big push is being made to bring new partners aboard because March will be National Nutrition Month. Some of the upcoming programs include working with the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) in March with a focus on whole grains; outreach to the Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities and working with associated entities such as Concepts in Community Living, Midwest Health Innovations, The Hive, Easterseals, and Creative Foundations; work with Mount Vernon Municipal Court including Merit Court; outreach involving a National Nutrition Month series with the Centerburg Senior Center; and outreach to the Public Library of Mount Vernon & Knox County and Knox County Learning Center.
SNAP-ed is also reaching out by establishing a sustainability committee with Edible Knox, and creating community gardens in cooperation with the Get Healthy Knox Coalition and the Knox County Local Food Council to create a community and school garden with Fredericktown Local Schools. SNAP-ed has also partnered with the Produce Prescription Program, working with dietitians at Knox County Health to offer healthy cooking classes often featuring easy-to-make healthy snacks.
SNAP-ed is coordinated through the Knox County OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Program and OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
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