Maine Success Stories

High Risk Patients in Androscoggin County Learn Nutrition Skills to Improve Their Health

This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

Type of Program
Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

Summary
Community Care Teams (CCTS) are multi-disciplinary, community-based, practice-integrated care management teams that work with Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) practices to provide enhanced services for high-needs patients. CCTs are funded as part of the Medicaid (MaineCare) PCMH projectSince 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed has been implementing a Community Care Team (CCT) project in Androscoggin County. Through collaborations with three key partners—Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice, DFD Russell Medical Center and Tri-County Mental Health Services—Nutrition Educators have reached a total of 252 high-risk patients in 2015 and 2016 with nutrition education. Patients and their families learn how to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a limited budget. CCT case managers work with the Nutrition Educators to help reduce barriers to participation by addressing transportation challenges, assisting with outreach and recruitment, and securing appropriate venues for classes. Partnering agencies describe the approach as both applicable and effective for their patients, providing much-needed nutrition education services for low-income Mainers that are frequent users of the health care system.

Challenge
Individuals with high health care utilization rates are faced with increased risk of developing chronic diseases. In fact, these patients often have multiple diagnoses of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they often have limited resources to manage or treat their illnesses. Barriers to optimal care include lack of transportation, poverty, and low literacy levels. There are 10 CCT providers throughout Maine. They are designed to improve care and reduce avoidable costs for patients with complex or chronic conditions by helping with management of health care services. Healthy eating is integral to overall health, and nutrition education can complement existing CCT services to optimize patient support.

photo of nutrition education in a grocery store

Solution
The Maine SNAP-Ed CCT project works to engage CCT patients in Androscoggin County with interactive nutrition education sessions led by Nutrition Educators. CCT case managers encourage their patients to participate in the classes by developing promotional materials, calling patients to remind them of upcoming sessions, and even arranging transportation services to classes.

The CCT project utilizes evidence-based curricula based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These concepts are integrated into interactive lessons to teach cooking, food safety, and food resource management skills in the grocery store setting. Family members are encouraged to attend the classes to help reinforce the lessons at home.

“When we initially started the CCT, we had a patient that met the CCT staff at the Nutrition Center. The patient was a diabetic and living on limited funds and buying food was very tough. The patient came to the SNAP-ED class and was taught by the nutritionist how to shop for healthy food on a budget. This was very helpful to the patient. In addition, the patient was able to cook a healthy meal and have socialization.”
—CCT Partner

Sustaining Success
In its first two years, implementation of the CCT project in Androscoggin County has proven to be very successful. Community partnerships have formed and expanded. Partnering agencies are very satisfied with the CCT project and find the approach applicable and effective. They also indicate that this targeted approach to delivering direct education provides a much-needed service for this high-risk population. Patients are being exposed to curricula that teach them how to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a budget – education they are not regularly receiving in their Patient Centered Medical Homes.

Going forward, the Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators in Androscoggin County will continue marketing and promotion efforts of this project and will consider expansion of partnerships to increase reach. Reducing transportation barriers will continue to be a priority. In 2017, Maine SNAP-Ed will integrate lessons learned to support additional programming with CCT patients in other regions of Maine.

Partners in Success

  • Healthy Androscoggin
  • Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice
  • DFD Russell Medical Center
  • Tri-County Mental Health Services

Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. The program has 44 Nutrition Educators throughout the state that implement 7 evidence-based curricula, reaching the entire age spectrum.

In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed delivered 11,548 nutrition education classes, reaching a total of 34,190 youth and adult participants.

In 2015 and 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed reached 252 high-risk patients in Androscoggin County.

For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

 
 
 


Creating a Sustainable Garden for Low-Income Seniors in Aroostook County

This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

Type of Program
Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

Summary
In 2017, Maine SNAP-Ed’s local Nutrition Educator in Houlton partnered with Market Square Commons, an elderly, low-income housing facility to increase access to fruits and vegetables. This project was initiated by the educator upon learning that many residents in her nutrition education classes had experience and interest in gardening, but lacked the access and resources needed to continue this healthy activity in their new environment.
In 2017, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators are helping to establish 10 community gardens across the state, including these raised beds.
The educator collaborated with the housing site staff and the residents to prepare a garden site, and through local donations, eight raised garden beds were built and seedlings were planted. In the 2017 growing season, 31 low-income seniors will have access to fresh, local produce they have grown themselves. This environmental change complements the ongoing nutrition education that provides the Market Square Commons residents with the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Challenge
Obesity is a growing epidemic across the United States and is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. In Maine, 2 out of 3 Maine adults and 41% of Maine children are overweight or obese. Eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to diets, reduces the risk for chronic disease, and helps manage body weight when consumed as part of overall healthy diet. Maine SNAP-Ed works with local community coalitions to support sustainable changes that help reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

photo of raised garden beds.

Solution
During a nutrition education class at Market Square Commons, the Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator asked her senior participants if they were growing any herbs or vegetables in their homes. Although very interested, the attendees noted too many barriers to incorporating gardening into their daily routines at this housing site. So the educator created a plan to develop a shared garden.

Residents raised money through bottle-return drives, and local businesses and residents donated lumber, soil, and seedlings to create raised beds that are accessible to all residents – including those in wheelchairs and using walkers for support. The beds are sturdy and located close to a popular common area so that even residents unable to garden can socialize with their neighbors and benefit from the fresh-grown produce.

“To see tenants coming out of their apartment...mingling, planning, planting, watering, weeding is a beautiful thing! We will be adding to this local garden spot to improve a bit each year. Something this nutrition educator is looking forward to!”
—Heather McGuire, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator

Sustaining Success
The raised beds at Market Square Commons have been so successful that they are already planning to expand by adding three more garden beds to the common gardening area. Notably, the residents report that the addition of the garden to their living environment has increased opportunities for both physical activity and socialization. Going forward, residents plan to add a horseshoe pit to the front of the building, which will increase activity and opportunities for socialization.

photo of a nutrition educator with a community member.

The Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator is building on her relationship with the housing site to further opportunities to increase access to local fruits and vegetables. Summer activities include recruiting Houlton seniors to participate in Maine Harvest Bucks (through the USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program) at the local farmers’ market adjacent to Market Square Commons. At the market there will be recipe demonstrations with locally grown produce and seedling giveaways paired with tips for storage and other strategies to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a budget – supporting healthy aging for Maine seniors.

Partners in Success

  • Market Square Commons
  • CC Realty Management
  • Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets
  • Local Residents
  • Houlton Businesses

    Maine SNAP-Ed
    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices.

    In 2015, the program began implementing Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies in a variety of local community settings. By making sustainable changes to the environment, Nutrition Educators are fostering healthy behaviors that aim to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine. In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed PSE efforts reached 2,498 individuals eligible for SNAP and a total of 7,118 Mainers were reached.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


  • Gleaning Fruits and Vegetables from Farms to the Communities of the Midcoast

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed, Access Health, and Healthy Lincoln County worked with community stakeholders and flourishing local food councils to identify ways the community could come together to ensure all residents gain access to healthy foods—specifically, fruits and vegetables. Gleaning—collecting and distributing quality produce from local farms that would otherwise go to waste—was prioritized and Merrymeeting Gleaners was formed.

    Nutrition Educators in Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties partnered with their local food security organizations to distribute gleaned produce to high-need sites throughout the Midcoast. At one low-income housing site, Bath Housing, an estimated 150 individuals received nearly 1,000 pounds of free, fresh, local produce in the summer of 2016. Overall, more than 14,000 pounds of food was distributed to SNAP-eligible recipients in 2016.

    photo people tending to a vegetable crop.

    Challenge
    Obesity is a growing epidemic across the United States and is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. In Maine, 2 out of 3 Maine adults and 41% of Maine children are overweight or obese.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to diets, reduces the risk for chronic disease, and helps manage body weight when consumed as part of an overall healthy diet.

    Maine SNAP-Ed works with local community coalitions to support sustainable changes that help reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    photo gleaners with their produce.

    Solution
    “We distributed 14,000 pounds—that’s about a T-Rex worth of food!”<br />
—AmericorpsVISTA volunteer, Bath HousingGleaning groups, like the Merrymeeting Gleaners, recover food that would otherwise not be picked from farmers’ fields and provide an opportunity to change the way the community gains access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers are thrilled to share the surplus of their harvest with underserved community members. In the Midcoast region, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators leveraged their connections to the community to establish direct links between the gleaners, farmers, and the sites in need—like WIC, Head Start, and public housing locations. Nutrition Educators show recipients at these sites how to prepare and store fresh produce and provide easy, healthy recipes to accompany the free produce. And they provide technical support to gleaning teams throughout the year, especially during harvest season.

    Sustaining Success
    The Midcoast community has created an impressive infrastructure to serve its highest need residents. With the support of Maine SNAP-Ed, the Merrymeeting Gleaners have established over 15 regular distribution sites for the 2017 harvest season and the gleaning effort is growing. Thanks to the ground work laid by the Healthy Lincoln County Nutrition Educator, the Lincoln County Gleaners was established and will initiate their first official “glean” during the 2017 harvest.
    Nutrition Educators in Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties continue to engage new community members in their local food system and provide technical support to these successful gleaning efforts. With organizations like the thriving Merrymeeting Gleaners, the newly established Lincoln County Gleaners, and long-standing SNAP-Ed partners, the Midcoast region is poised to continue leading the charge to improve food access for its most vulnerable populations.
    Partners in Success

    • Mid Coast Hunger Prevention
    • Bath Housing
    • Damariscotta Baptist Church
    • Lincoln Academy
    • The Morris Farm
    • Damariscotta River Association
    • Merrymeeting Food Council
    • FARMS – Farm and Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools

    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. In 2015, the program began implementing Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies in a variety of local community settings. By making sustainable changes to the environment, Nutrition Educators are fostering healthy behaviors that aim to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed PSE efforts reached 2,498 individuals eligible for SNAP and a total of 7,118 Mainers were reached.

    In 2017, 25 Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators are working on increasing access to local produce through gleaning, community supported agriculture projects, and farmers’ markets.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


    Kids Club at Rockland Farmers’ Market

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    In 2015, the Rockland Farmers’ Market was looking for ways to attract new families and add fun activities to help kids become familiar with local produce, healthy eating habits, and shopping at a farmers’ market. Maine SNAP-Ed teamed up with the market manager and local businesses to offer Kids Club, an interactive summer nutrition education program for youth. In 2016, 72 children participated in Kids Club, with the goal of increasing access to fruits and vegetables and encouraging interaction with local farmers—creating lifelong farmers’ market customers in Knox County.

    Child at the farmers market with a Maine SNAP-Ed backpack full of vegetables.

    Challenge
    Obesity is a growing epidemic across the United States and is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. In Maine, 2 out of 3 Maine adults and 41% of Maine children are overweight or obese.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to diets, reduces the risk for chronic disease, and helps manage body weight when consumed as part of an overall healthy diet.

    Maine SNAP-Ed works with local community coalitions to support sustainable changes that help reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    Assortment of produce from the farmers market.

    Solution
    Kids Club was born out of a need to make the market a welcoming place for all shoppers in the Rockland area. The Rockland Farmers’ Market was working hard to reach EBT/SNAP families. The market offered Harvest Bucks—a fruit and vegetable incentive program—and wanted to entice new shoppers to the market who could benefit from this program. The Nutrition Educator created a “Passport to Health.” Children between the ages of 5 and 16 participate in a nutrition themed physical activity, sample a new recipe, and ask farmers an agricultural question of the day. Upon completing these activities, children receive a $2 token to purchase a healthy snack from a market vendor.

    “These kids are the next generation of shoppers, and they love talking to the farmers.”
    —Nancy Wood, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator

    Sustaining Success
    In 2017, the Rockland Farmers’ Market is considering updating its bylaws to include language and a budget line item for Kids Club to ensure ongoing youth programming. Local businesses have been fiscally supportive and the Nutrition Educator will be working with the market manager to solidify these relationships and provide the written resources for others to implement this program.

    The hope is that the market will be able to run Kids Club for years to come to make the Rockland Farmers’ Market a place that welcomes all community members to shop for fruits and vegetables, utilizing EBT/SNAP benefits and incentive programs like Maine Harvest Bucks. Maine SNAP-Ed will work with partners to replicate the model statewide.

    Partners in Success

    • Knox County Community Health Coalition
    • Rockland Farmers’ Market
    • PenBay Healthcare
    • 5210 Let’s Go!
    • Local Businesses

    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. In 2015, the program began implementing Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies in a variety of local community settings. By making sustainable changes to the environment, Nutrition Educators are fostering healthy behaviors that aim to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed PSE efforts reached 2,498 individuals eligible for SNAP and a total of 7,118 Mainers were reached.

    In 2017, there are 23 Maine SNAP-Ed initiatives designed to increase access to fruits and vegetables from local farms and at farmers’ markets.
    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


    State-Level Partnership Spotlight: Maine Harvest Bucks Promotion Project

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    In FY 2017, the Maine SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency at the University of New England partnered with the Office for Family Independence (OFI) at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to provide state level support to the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets (MFFM) and Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) to encourage SNAP recipients to utilize Maine Harvest Bucks (MHB) at local farmers’ markets and food cooperatives.

    collage of images from the Maine Harvest Bucks program.

    MHB are nutrition incentives (funded through the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program) that allow SNAP/EBT shoppers to receive bonus dollars towards the purchase of local fruits and vegetables for every SNAP dollar spent.

    The agencies provided targeted, customized information to SNAP recipients residing near four MHB locations: Augusta Farmers’ Market at Mill Park, Houlton Community Market, Rockland Farmers’ Market, and Good Tern Co-op in Rockland. MFT and MFFM developed and printed postcards; OFI supported the targeted mailing to 6,933 SNAP recipients; and Maine SNAP-Ed provided logistical support and on-site nutrition education for SNAP shoppers.

    The collaborative effort effectively inspired new SNAP shoppers and transactions.

    Challenge
    Obesity, diet-related disease, and other chronic disease are complex problems that require a multi-pronged solution. In Maine, 2 out of 3 adults and 41% of children are overweight or obese. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recognize that all sectors of society shape the environment where people eat, learn, live, play, shop, and work. To prevent and reduce obesity, SNAP-Ed implementing agencies must partner with other sectors of influence to make changes across geographic levels. All four agencies in this partnership share a common goal of encouraging SNAP recipients to access local fruits and vegetables to help address obesity and food insecurity.

    image of postcards used.

    Solution
    The four closely-aligned state-level partners set a common goal: Mail customized postcards to all SNAP recipients in high-need communities to draw SNAP recipients to local food venues in targeted sites.

    MFT and MFFM designed and printed the postcards. In mid-July, OFI and Maine SNAP-Ed undertook the targeted mailing to the three high-need communities and surrounding zip codes. In addition, SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators provided series-based nutrition education at the farmers’ markets.

    The postcards included venue-specific details related to location, hours of operation, acceptance of SNAP/EBT and family programming such as live music and children’s story time. The postcards also included information on
    giveaways designed to encourage participation (cookbook, dining coupon, magazines) and photos of educators and market clerks were included to build familiarity with site procedures.

    “It was a great day at market!
    The postcards brought in 14 new EBT customers, & I was super busy for the first few hours. I gave away 19 cookbooks and was able to explain the program to some new faces.”

    —Houlton Community Marketstaff

    Sustaining Success
    Preliminary results show an increase in first-time shoppers at two of the participating markets. The Augusta farmers’ market had 52 new SNAP shoppers (108% increase) and 142 SNAP transactions (8% increase) in July and August, compared to the previous year. During the same time period, the Houlton Community Market had 32 new SNAP shoppers (46% increase) and 63 SNAP transactions (117% increase) compared to the previous year. The remaining sites experienced some challenges related to staffing and weather, and the partnering agencies will examine end-of season data for a complete analysis of outcomes.

    Going forward, the agencies will continue to collaborate on MHB promotions, incorporating lessons learned from this project and working together to identify ways to maximize resources and outcomes. All agencies recognize the value of combining nutrition education with nutrition incentives, and new opportunities for supporting shoppers at local venues will be explored.

    Partners in Success

    • Augusta Farmers’ Market at Mill Park
    • Houlton Community Market
    • Rockland Farmers’ Market
    • Good Tern Co-op
    • Chipotle
    • Lee Auto Mall

    Maine SNAP-Ed is a USDA-funded program that teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. The program has 30 Nutrition Educators throughout the state. They implement evidence-based youth and adult curricula and work collaboratively with community partners to make sustainable Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) changes to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    Maine Farmland Trust:
    MFT is a statewide organization that protects farmland, supports farmers, and advances farming. Their goal is not just to protect Maine farmland, but to revitalize Maine’s rural landscape by keeping agricultural lands working and helping farmers, and their communities, thrive.

    Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets:
    MFFM’s mission is to cultivate a vibrant, sustainable farmers’ market community as a vital part of Maine’s local food network. The Federation works with farmers, consumers, and communities to make wholesome, locally-grown foods available to all residents, to educate consumers about food resources, and to support farm viability.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


    Edible Main Street: Increasing Exposure to Fruits and Vegetables on Main Street in Norway, Maine

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed and Healthy Oxford Hills teamed up with the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy (CEBE) to build planter boxes to line Main Street in Norway. The goal is to demonstrate how to grow vegetables and herbs with the hope of inspiring people to grow their own food. This project started with 12 planters and added 4 more in 2016. Each planter has an accompanying educational description and suggested culinary use for its contents. In its first year, an estimated 732 SNAP-eligible residents were exposed to community-grown produce on Norway’s Edible Main Street.

    Challenge
    Obesity is a growing epidemic across the United States and is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. In Maine, 2 out of 3 Maine adults and 41% of Maine children are overweight or obese.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to diets, reduces the risk for chronic disease, and helps manage body weight when consumed as part of overall healthy diet.

    Maine SNAP-Ed works with local community coalitions to support sustainable changes that help reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    photo of Edible Main Street planter and logo.

    Solution
    The planters aim to increase exposure to healthy foods, like vegetables and herbs, by allowing those that pass by to sample them. Each planter has a laminated ring-bound book that identifies all the plants with photos, harvesting tips, and different ways to use the produce. Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators assisted in the creation of the educational material attached to the planters and provide ongoing programming that highlights the planters’ contents in regards to harvesting and using the produce in easy, healthy recipes. Volunteers that tend to the planters (weeding and watering) note that they have also been a tool to increase community engagement with residents and local business owners.

    photo of information cards.

    Sustaining Success
    The work of the Edible Main Street project has shifted from building and planting to focusing on engagement of volunteers to help maintain the planters. Community members are recruiting and training volunteers to help with watering, weeding, and general maintenance of the planters. Business owners and those living along Main Street have taken unofficial ownership of some of the planters to ensure the planters are well maintained. Plans for 2017 include growing a variety of vegetables and herbs through succession planting that are then harvested at varying times throughout the summer and fall.

    “We see everything from children eating their first edible flower to nibblers trying out the different greens and herbs as they walk down the street.”
    -CEBE Volunteer

    The work continues to help engage community members in a conversation about the local food system and the part they play in increasing access to healthy foods for people throughout the greater Norway area—starting with their very own Main Street.
    Partners in Success

    • Center for an Ecology-Based Economy
    • Healthy Oxford Hills
    • Western Maine Health
    • Local Main Street Businesses
    • Community Volunteers

    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. In 2015, the program began implementing Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies in a variety of local community settings. By making sustainable changes to the environment, Nutrition Educators are fostering healthy behaviors that aim to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed PSE efforts reached 2,498 individuals eligible for SNAP and a total of 7,118 Mainers were reached.

    In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators helped establish five community gardens across the state, including these Main Street planters.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


    Eat the Streets: Increasing Exposure to Fruits and Vegetables on Main Street in Westbrook

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed and Healthy Rivers (Opportunity Alliance) teamed up with a University of New England graduate student and the Downtown Westbrook Coalition to build and install eight garden planters in Blue Note Park in Westbrook. The goal of this project was to help people gain access to healthy foods. Beans, cherry tomatoes, and herbs are just a few of the things residents will be able to pick while visiting the park. These planters will also help to maintain an active and attractive downtown. Nutrition Educators engage students of Westbrook in conversations about healthy eating and lead hands-on activities such as sprouting seedlings in the classroom to grow in the community planters.

    Challenge
    Obesity is a growing epidemic across the United States and is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. In Maine, 2 out of 3 Maine adults and 41% of Maine children are overweight or obese.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to diets, reduces the risk for chronic disease, and helps manage body weight when consumed as part of overall healthy diet.

    Maine SNAP-Ed works with local community coalitions to support sustainable changes that help reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    photo of planters on Main Street in Westbrook.

    Solution
    The planters will be maintained by seven local businesses that have committed to watering and weeding their assigned planter for the entire growing season. Each business will have information inside their shops about the Maine SNAP-Ed program and other resources related to food security. Nutrition Educators provide programming to a variety of ages that highlights the planters in regards to growing, harvesting, and using the produce in healthy cooking. The planters serve a secondary purpose to motivate families get outside and explore the local downtown.

    photo of a child planting a seed and watching it grow.
    Partners in Success
    Planter Caretakers

    • St. Anthony of Padua Parish
    • Westbrook Regional Vocational School
    • We Compost It
    • Johnny’s Select Seeds
    • University of Maine Cooperative Extension



    • Al Nakeel Market
    • Bank of America
    • Big Fin Poke
    • Fajita Grill
    • Westbrook House of Pizza
    • Saco Bay Physical Therapy
    • Tropical Sun Tanning

    Sustaining Success
    While 2017 will be the first year of planting, volunteers and community members are already predicting successes based on the excitement generated by local residents and businesses.
    Visit the Portland Press Herald for more details related to this story.

    "…it dawns on them [the students] that those flowers turn into green beans or tomatoes, they think it’s magical."
    —Nicole Anderson, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator.

    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. In 2015, the program began implementing Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies in a variety of local community settings. By making sustainable changes to the environment, Nutrition Educators are fostering healthy behaviors that aim to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed PSE efforts reached 2,498 individuals eligible for SNAP and a total of 7,118 Mainers were reached.

    In 2017, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators are helping to establish ten community gardens across the state, including these Main Street planters.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


    Creating a Sustainable Youth Garden for Penobscot Nation

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    “This program is a way to bring together children, families, and the community.”—Shaunda Neptune, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition EducatorIn 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed and the River Coalition teamed up with the Penobscot Nation Youth Program to build a community garden. Local garden supply stores donated materials and seeds. Even garden challenges like groundhogs did not deter the dedicated group of community members working to familiarize children with how food grows and to inspire them to eat more fruits and vegetables. In the first year, the youth garden emphasized the importance of healthy eating in a hands-on learning environment, exposing up to 126 children to fresh, local produce.

    Challenge
    Obesity is a growing epidemic across the United States and is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. In Maine, 2 out of 3 Maine adults and 41% of Maine children are overweight or obese.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to diets, reduces the risk for chronic disease, and helps manage body weight when consumed as part of overall healthy diet.

    Maine SNAP-Ed works with local community coalitions to support sustainable changes that help reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    young girl planting seeds in a vegetable garden

    Solution
    Maine SNAP-Ed teamed up with tribal community members to establish a youth garden located within walking distance from the community center. The huge garden space (approximately 25ft x 36ft) pictured below was established and maintained by the Penobscot Nation Youth Program. The Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator will use the produce grown in the garden for educational opportunities as well as to provide healthy snacks for youth programming. This year, children from the Penobscot Nation child care center will use the garden to learn about where food comes from and will help plant vegetable seedlings. Excess produce gleaned from the garden will be donated to the local food pantry.

    Sustaining Success
    During the first growing season of the garden, the youth group faced some setbacks including a determined groundhog that ate most of the produce, leaving only carrots and lettuce for the children to eat.

    Learning from their experiences during the first year, community members developing plans to improve their garden in 2017. The garden group is working to get more departments within Penobscot Nation’s Social Services to participate. This growing season, each department of Penobscot Nation Social Services has chosen a vegetable and will work with their Youth Program to start seedlings for the garden. This community commitment will increase the produce available and support the garden’s sustainability going forward.

    Partners in Success

    • River Coalition
    • Penobscot Nation Social Services, including: Child Care Center, Youth Program & Teen Center, Food Pantry, Tribal Family Advocate, Prevention Coordinator
    • Indian Island School
    • Local Garden Stores

    children smiling and tending to their vegetable garden

    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices.

    In 2015, the program began implementing Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies in a variety of local community settings. By making sustainable changes to the environment, Nutrition Educators are fostering healthy behaviors that aim to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed PSE efforts reached 2,498 individuals eligible for SNAP and a total of 7,118 Mainers were reached.

    In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators helped establish seven school gardens across the state, including this garden plot.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


    Creating a Sustainable School Teaching Garden in Lewiston

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed and St. Mary’s Nutrition Center worked with staff from Montello Elementary School in Lewiston to build a teaching garden on school property. The goal of this project was to engage students and teachers to utilize the garden for more than just learning about flowers by bringing the classroom outdoors to teach subjects like math and science. The garden is used throughout the school day, after school, and during the summer months by a team of enthusiastic teachers and students. Each year, up to 600 students are exposed to plant life, gardening practices, and delicious fresh vegetables grown on their own school grounds.

    photo of vegetable garden.

    Challenge
    Obesity is a growing epidemic across the United States and is associated with increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. In Maine, 2 out of 3 Maine adults and 41% of Maine children are overweight or obese.

    Eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to diets, reduces the risk for chronic disease, and helps manage body weight when consumed as part of overall healthy diet.

    Maine SNAP-Ed works with local community coalitions to support sustainable changes that help reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    carrot garden sign and fresh vegetables from the garden

    Solution
    In 2016, the Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator focused on engaging summer school students in enrichment-based programming to help teachers address the “summer slide” (learning loss during summer months). On Mondays and Wednesdays she moved classrooms to the garden area for hands-on projects related to garden care and learning how food grows. Summer school teachers were enthusiastic about the program so they asked about providing garden education during the school year. As a result, the Nutrition Educator developed a plan to bring individual classrooms out during the academic school year. And things really took off during after-school programming, where students could join cooking and gardening clubs to grow and use the garden produce to follow recipes and prepare healthy meals and snacks.

    Sustaining Success
    Maine SNAP-Ed and St. Mary’s Nutrition Center will continue to provide Montello Elementary School with evidence-based garden and culinary-enhanced nutrition education programming. In addition, the Nutrition Educator will continue to work with energized teachers to incorporate gardening and nutrition information into their teaching—including creation of a teacher training to increase confidence in utilizing the garden. The Nutrition Educator is teaming up with the local Farm to School Coordinator to offer “garden bins” which are resource boxes filled with lesson plans divided by themes (e.g. plant parts, bugs in the garden, etc.).

    Plans for 2017 include continuing the garden and cooking club during summer enrichment programs and a teacher workshop day where teachers will learn to conduct lessons in the garden.

    “Teachers and staff from other local schools are hearing about this and are requesting assistance with revitalizing their school gardens.”
    —Rebecca Duggan, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator

    Partners in Success

    • Montello Elementary Staff
    • St. Mary’s Nutrition Center Staff
    • Farm to School Planning Grant Coordinator

    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. In 2015, the program began implementing Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) change strategies in a variety of local community settings. By making sustainable changes to the environment, Nutrition Educators are fostering healthy behaviors that aim to reduce the burden of obesity across Maine.

    In 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed PSE efforts reached 2,498 individuals eligible for SNAP and a total of 7,118 Mainers were reached.

    In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators helped establish seven school gardens across the state, including these raised beds.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.

     
     
     


    New Mainers Learn Strategies to Shop, Cook, and Eat Healthy in Their New Communities

    This post was submitted by Maine SNAP-Ed.

    Type of Program
    Nutrition Education and Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change

    Summary
    Since 2015, Maine SNAP-Ed has reached a total of 1,326 refugees and immigrants in Maine with nutrition education. In collaboration with Portland Public Health, Healthy Androscoggin, and St. Mary’s Nutrition Center. Maine SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators provide culturally-appropriate classes that utilize USDA-approved curricula. The immigrants and refugees, or “New Mainers,” are from numerous countries of origin and participants have represented at least six different languages. With the support of interpreters, adult and youth participants overcome language and cultural barriers to learn key nutrition concepts. Adult participants learn how to shop and prepare healthy and familiar meals on a limited budget, an essential skill to support adjustment to their new communities. Adult participants report high satisfaction with the nutrition education. They indicate excitement to share the information with family members and will encourage others in their community to attend classes.

    Challenge
    The New Mainers in the SNAP-Ed classes often tell Nutrition Educators they already know how to cook and eat healthy. The challenge for them is shopping and finding the foods they are accustomed to in order to prepare familiar and healthy meals on a budget. This is a common story for recent immigrants in the United States who often experience poor health outcomes because they are introduced to new, unhealthy foods; their physical activity decreases; they are exposed to advertising for fast food; and they face barriers to retaining native food and cultural habits. Many New Mainers struggle with adjusting to grocery stores where items may be unfamiliar or their desired fresh fruit and vegetable items are only available as frozen or canned, requiring new preparation skills.

    Participants learning and cooking in a kitchen.

    Solution
    SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educators teach New Mainers how to navigate local grocery stores, convenience stores, and farmers’ markets and learn to use low-cost frozen and canned food items to make meals that are healthy and familiar. Adult classes include basic cooking skills, food safety practices, and food resource management. Children and teens are taught key nutrition concepts and are introduced to foods unfamiliar to them, but readily available in their new communities.

    To ensure culturally appropriate nutrition messages, Maine SNAP-Ed revised the translated USDA’s MyPlate graphics to include familiar foods from Arabic, Somali, Swahili, and French-speaking African cultures. Nutrition Educators reaching immigrants from Somalia use Kaaley Ila Kari (“Come Cook with Me”), nutrition education and cooking classes designed with Somali and Somali Bantu women.

    A nutrition educator teaches a room full of students.

    Sustaining Success
    Two different teaching models are used to effectively reach Maine’s immigrant populations. The first model utilizes interpreters to assist with instruction. The second model relies on Nutrition Educators fluent in the most prevalent languages and cultures in their community. Going forward, Maine SNAP-Ed will work with Nutrition Educators and community partners to support both models. Developing and sustaining relationships with partners that work with New Mainer families is essential for promotion and recruitment and helps ensure participant retention. State-level partnerships with immigrant organizations would add support to local-level engagement.

    As immigrants and refugees continue to relocate to Maine, there is an ongoing need to provide translated materials and culturally appropriate resources. As the countries of origin change, SNAP-Ed and community partners must adjust and respond to the varying needs and opportunities for nutrition education.

    "I learned a lot from the SNAP courses because it’s not that we don’t know how to shop. It’s not that we don’t know how to eat. But we didn’t know really how much our body need. Now each time we go shop we make sure that we have a little bit of whole grain, little bit more vegetable, little bit some of protein, so we can have a complex mix of food that our body need to stay healthy."
    —Mayuma, SNAP-Ed Participant.

    Partners in Success

    • Healthy Androscoggin
    • St. Mary’s Health System and Nutrition Center
    • City of Portland, Public Health Division
    • Catholic Charities
    • Cultivating Communities
    • Islamic Society of Portland Maine
    • Neighborhood Housing Programs

    Maine SNAP-Ed teaches low-income Mainers the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier lifestyle choices. The program has 44 Nutrition Educators throughout the state that implement 7 evidence-based curricula, reaching the entire age spectrum.

    In 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed delivered 11,548 nutrition education classes, reaching a total of 34,190 youth and adult participants.

    In 2015 and 2016, Maine SNAP-Ed reached a total of 1,326 refugees and immigrants in Maine.

    For more information, please contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu. or visit www.mainesnap-ed.org.