Iowa Success Stories

Iowa Nutrition Network School Grant Program

This article was written and submitted by Doris Montgomery, on behalf of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The Iowa Nutrition Network School Grant Program is designed to improve fruit and vegetable and low-fat dairy consumption among elementary school children in schools with at least 50 percent participation in free- and reduced-price lunch. The program delivers classroom-based nutrition and physical activity education supported by social marketing strategies.

Monthly lessons encourage students to choose fruits and vegetables for snacks. Lessons feature fruits and veggies that students taste with their peers. Fruit and vegetable lessons are available for nutrition educators and classroom teachers. The milk lessons are taught at least twice each year.

There are two school-based campaigns that are part of the School Grant Program. The Pick a better snack™ campaign materials reinforce classroom lessons and trigger action by students and their families. Featured fruits and vegetables are incorporated into family Bingo cards and newsletters that go home with students monthly. Schools use the campaign to promote lunch menu items and to support USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Classroom lessons incorporate physical activity demonstrations and messages about active play. Play Your Way. One Hour a Day. is a companion campaign to Pick a better snack™.

One campaign is designed exclusively for mothers. Their bodies change, so should their milk. encourages mothers to make the switch to low-fat milk for children age two and over. This campaign does not appear in schools.

The channels of communication (beyond schools) for the social marketing campaigns include; supermarket signage and demonstrations, billboards and bus shelter signage in SNAP-Ed-qualified locations, television and radio ads, and materials at organizations such as WIC and YMCAs.

The Network’s school-based program was included in USDA’s Wave II SNAP Education and Evaluation Study. The program had a significant, positive impact on several primary outcomes compared with the comparison group. Significant changes include reported intake of fruits and vegetables and the likelihood of using 1 percent or skim milk rather than whole milk. View the final report from USDA.

For more information, contact Doris Montgomery, Iowa Department of Public Health