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Family Nutrition Program | Virginia Cooperative Extension

two women grocery shoppingSmart Choices in the Grocery Store is a “point-of-purchase” grocery store experience to provide a taste test, recipe ideas, nutrition information displays and handouts, and store intercom messages about a different topic each month.

Smart Choices in the Grocery Store was created by the Virginia Family Nutrition Program to target grocery stores with high SNAP redemption to better reach low-income Virginians, encouraging them to eat smart.

Monthly Topics

January Think Your Drink
February Heart Healthy
March Portion Distortion
April Power Up with Breakfast
May Reducing Sodium
June Getting Calcium for a Lifetime
July Focus on Fruit
August Vary Your Veggies
September Increasing Whole Grains
October Super Smart Snacks
November Food Safety at Thanksgiving and Every Day
December Healthy Holiday

The Food Security Program is designed to increase the food security of low-income Virginians. The program does this in a variety of ways including:

  • Increasing the linkages between SNAP recipients and their local farmers markets by helping markets develop their abilities to accept and welcome SNAP recipients through creating an EBT toolkit.
  • Training volunteers to perform low cost, healthy meal demonstrations at markets that accept SNAP.
  • Educating SNAP participants to use their benefits to buy food-bearing plant starts and seeds.
  • Demonstrating the basics of container gardening for youth participants with the goal that they will help their families start small gardens at home.
  • Piloting the use of "garden prescriptions" and community gardens to increase engagement in SNAP-Ed, WIC, and gardening with the New River Health District.
  • Publications

    The Farmers Market Cooking Coaches program teaches basic cooking skills and nutrition to farmers market shoppers at markets across the commonwealth. Using the “Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables” curriculum these demonstrations are quick, interactive, and specific to teaching health benefits and cooking tips about produce sold in the market that day. If you catch a Farmers Market Cooking Coaches demonstration you will have the chance to learn something new, try a healthy and fresh recipe, and take the recipe home to try it yourself!

    Topics covered include:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Shopping at the farmers market on a budget
  • The basics of storing fresh produce
  • Food safety
  • My Plate
  • Easy Meal Planning
  • Healthy Portions
  • Fiber
  • How to read a Nutrition Facts label
  • Cooking with beans
  • The Farmers Market Cooking Coaches program is always looking for volunteers to do cooking demonstrations and education at farmers markets that accept SNAP. If you are interested, please contact your local FCS SNAP-Ed agent for more information.

    The Faith-based and Community Volunteer Project reaches limited-resource families through collaborators and volunteers. Outreach to our target audience is accomplished through partnerships with teachers, school nurses, librarians, parents, chefs, after-school program staff, and school nutrition staff, as well as state-level agencies and community organizations. The use of collaborators and volunteers allows the Family Nutrition Program to reach an even greater number of people and spread our message of Eat Smart, Move More for a healthier Virginia.

    Nutrition Outreach Instructors (NOI) help to train and coordinate collaborators and volunteers in their regions to deliver nutrition and healthy lifestyle education using the Family Nutrition Program’s curricula. If you are interested in becoming a community collaborator or volunteer, please contact your local NOI or Judy Stevens, the statewide Project Associate, using this map.

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