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Live Well in Schools
Body Quest Makes a Difference
The flagship school-based initiative of Auburn University SNAP-Ed is Body Quest (BQ), a multilevel, comprehensive obesity prevention initiative, which empowers Alabama’s youth and their parents to make healthier choices.
During the 2019–2020 school year, SNAP-Ed educators provided BQ to 7,112 third graders in 57 Alabama counties, 124 schools, and 377 classrooms. All schools were SNAP-Ed eligible with more than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Classes included educator-led discussion, vegetable tastings, and iPad app reinforcement lessons narrated by the BQ Warriors, who possess superpowers from eating healthy foods.
A statewide impact evaluation of BQ was conducted with schools randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. Both treatment and control groups participated in self-reported pre- and post-assessments. Treatment students and parents received an intervention between assessments. Control students and parents received delayed intervention after all assessments were completed. Data were analyzed using a two-way mixed-model ANOVA. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed in treatment groups from pre- to post-assessment and compared to control groups.
Parents Eat Better, Move More, and Make a Change
Body Quest engaged 5,320 parents in educational activities to support healthy home environments. Parents joined the BQ Recipe Tester Club and received inexpensive, simple, and kid-friendly vegetable recipes to prepare and “test” with their children at home. Parents also received educational materials and weekly text messages and were encouraged to interact with Live Well Alabama on social media by following, liking, tagging, and sharing content.
Text Messaging Engaged Parents to Make a Change
At the beginning of BQ, 4,908 parents provided their cell phone numbers to receive three action-oriented, educational text messages per week. The majority (81%) of parents remained active in the texting program for the entire 15 weeks. At the end of BQ, a texting poll with participating parents (n = 242) measured the effectiveness of the text messages and self-reported behavior change.
Body Quest Schools Make a Change
Making healthy food and physical activity priorities at school is critical. Research shows kids who have healthy eating habits and get regular physical activity are more likely to have better academic performance, attendance, self-esteem, classroom behavior, and lower obesity rates. SNAP-Ed educators leveraged strong partnerships with
85 BQ schools to facilitate 160 positive changes creating healthier school environments for more than 37,400 students.
- Policy changes established or improved school wellness
policies and eliminated soft drinks at school-based day camps.
- Systems changes increased availability of fresh, local produce in school cafeterias.
- Environmental improvements established, reinvigorated, or sustained edible school gardens and improved access to safe walking and biking paths to schools.
- Promotional efforts provided tastings and signage placed throughout the school encouraging students to make healthy choices.
Using a variety of original and engaging campaign materials developed with input from the SNAP-Ed target audience, the Live Well Alabama messages to Eat Better, Move More, and Make a Change for better health reached Alabama residents in multiple ways every day.
Billboards made more than 146 million impressions. Digital advertisements made more than 8 million impressions and drove viewers to visit the Live Well Alabama Facebook page more than 13,000 times.
Social media following grew by 25 percent. Facebook alone reached more than 240,000 people. More than 6,500 people participated in text messaging campaigns. Promotional signs in schools, grocery stores, and parks and trails reminded Alabamians to Eat Better, Move More, and Choose Water wherever they went.
SNAP-Ed educators continuously spread Live Well Alabama messages and reinforced concepts through recipe demonstrations, nutrition education sessions, and food and physical activity access projects.
SNAP-Ed partnered with Altarum Institute to evaluate with a phone survey the reach and effectiveness of the billboard campaign.
The survey included 515 respondents from various Alabama counties. Survey respondents were asked questions about health views and behaviors. Responses were compared between those who were exposed and those who were not exposed to the billboard campaign.
Survey respondents who were exposed to campaign messages were more likely to take action toward better health and reported higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, and water compared to those who were not exposed to the campaign.
Live Well in Communities
SNAP-Ed educators helped food pantries offer more healthy options to their clients by connecting pantries with school and community gardens and other donation sources.
To help ensure healthy items were accepted by clients, SNAP-Ed educators promoted new or unfamiliar foods through recipe demonstrations, sample tastings, and nutrition education helping 9,809 food pantry clients per month enjoy nutritious meals during times of need.
SNAP-Ed educators partnered with 10 local food stores to encourage shoppers to make healthier purchases through in-store recipe demonstrations, sample tastings, and educational activities. SNAP-Ed educators also worked with store owners to suggest enhancements to product offerings and store layouts and to display promotional signs. Together, these efforts directed more than 2,140 shoppers per day toward healthier food and beverages.
SNAP-Ed educators helped farmers increase sales of fresh produce by conducting recipe demonstrations, sample tastings, and nutrition education encouraging 3,399 customers per market day to purchase and eat more locally grown fruits and vegetables.
SNAP-Ed educators partnered with local farmers and community organizations to make farmers market produce more accessible to people with limited resources through the promotion of SNAP EBT payment, coupon programs, and improvements in days and hours of operation.
SNAP-Ed educators supported establishment, reinvigoration, or sustainability of 28 school and community gardens making fresh vegetables available to almost 6,830 Alabama residents. SNAP-Ed educators played a vital role in connecting community organizations so that garden harvests were distributed to places such as food pantries, soup kitchens, school cafeterias, or summer feeding sites serving those who need it most.
SNAP-Ed educators and community garden volunteers weighed produce and determined a total harvest weight from gardens and gleaned excess produce from farmers. In FY20, gardens supported by SNAP-Ed produced more than 7,820 pounds of produce valued at $12,707. This equated to 35,929 servings of vegetables — enough vegetables for 14,371 adults to meet the USDA daily recommendations.
Parks and Recreation Centers
SNAP-Ed educators promoted physical activity in many ways. These included incorporating active games and movement breaks into nutrition education, supporting walk- and bike-to-school efforts, initiating community walking groups, providing education at community recreation events, and displaying promotional signs and mile markers at parks, trails, and recreation centers serving more than 3,400 Alabamians every day.
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