Virginia SNAP-Ed developed a variety of nutrition education resources to encourage people to eat the nutritious foods, particularly the fresh vegetables, offered by local food pantries.
Individuals and households with low income, including SNAP participants, continue to struggle to consistently acquire enough food for healthy living. Food pantries serve as one source of emergency food for many SNAP-Ed eligible families. Yet, food pantries indicate that many clients are not familiar with nutritious foods, particularly fresh vegetables, that are donated to food pantries. As a result, the foods are discarded or wasted and not consumed; whereas they could help increase individual/household food security, reduce food waste, and promote healthy eating.
Virginia SNAP-Ed created a number of resources and formed ongoing partnerships between food pantries and SNAP-Ed. Together, the food pantries and SNAP-Ed provided a perfect pairing to mutually support food security and eating for optimal health.
What to do with…
A common request from food pantries to Virginia SNAP-Ed was education to encourage the consumption of unfamiliar produce that food pantries were distributing. As a result, Virginia SNAP-Ed developed a series of “What to do with...” with information on processing, nutrition information, and simple nutritious recipes. These supported many face-to-face and virtual food demonstrations.
Look and Cook
Virginia SNAP-Ed created a Look and Cook recipe series designed to visualize how to prepare low-cost, healthy recipes, for non-cooks and individuals with low food literacy. This series of recipes was designed for use with food pantry partners and food demonstrations with food pantry partners. To date, 25 look and cook recipes have been completed.
Virginia SNAP-Ed partnered with the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore to pilot the use of quick response (QR) codes as a client outreach strategy. The QR code- directed clients to a specially designed website, Nourish, that housed nutrition education, physical activity resources, and community specific information.
In Salem, a partnership between the Giving Garden and Virginia SNAP-Ed resulted in the donation of freshly picked produce to a food pantry nearby. Virginia SNAP-Ed then provided education and resources on how to prepare the produce. Virginia SNAP-Ed also provides resources for community gardens and gardens-to-go (container gardens) in eligible communities.
Meredith Ledlie-Johnson, PSE Coordinator, Virginia SNAP-Ed