Michigan Success Stories

Nutrition in Action

This story was submitted by the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids.

Children usually look forward to classroom parties filled with sweet treats and sugary beverages. But this year thanks to Nutrition in Action, the Dickinson Elementary holiday party was filled with fresh fruit and yogurt at the students’ requests! Nutrition in Action is helping today’s children learn lifelong healthy habits to grow into tomorrow’s strong and healthy leaders.

girl holding up a handmade cookbook

Nutrition in Action uses a whole school approach to encourage healthy eating habits and promote physical activity to children in Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Newaygo Counties. Nutrition educators teach a six lesson nutrition education series to students in kindergarten through twelfth grades. The lessons are offered weekly and are about 60 minutes long. Each lesson includes a nutrition activity, a movement activity and a tasting component.

veggie sushi

Nutrition in Action students take a survey that measures behavior change after completing the program. The survey is designed to identify positive change in the following:

      • Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products
      • Being more physically active
      • Choosing healthier snacks
      • Eating healthy foods more often

For example, one question asks students to indicate the number of days they ate fruits and vegetables before and after the six nutrition lessons.

Ms. Williams’ class just completed their 6 week Nutrition in Action series. On the last day, the instructor took a poll of the students to see who has tried something new during the 6 week course. Nineteen out of twenty-three children (83%) raised their hand. This was a clear indication that our goal of getting students to eat more healthy foods was accomplished.

Students participating in physical activity lessons through Nutrition in Action are evaluated using the Get Active Daily Survey (GAD). This survey is administered to students at the beginning of the program and at the end. The pre-survey asked only one question, “How many of the last four days did you use some of your free time to be physically active?” Students select a range of 0-4. The post survey asks students the same question.

Qualitative Data
“I thought this was going to taste weird, but it was really good and it makes me want to try it at home with some different vegetables that I like that are healthy.”
- Alvina, 5th grader at Buchanan Elementary School talking about Veggie Sushi (spinach, carrots, wheat tortilla, cheese, broccoli, yogurt based ranch)

The program was launched in 2006. It is funded by the USDA/Michigan Nutrition Network, and serves more than 15,900 vulnerable children across 20 school districts each school year.

children in a classroom

Learn more about the program at: https://www.grymca.org/activate/education/nutrition-in-action/.

This program is funded through the USDA SNAP-Ed program. For more information, contact Nancy Maiquez, Youth Development Senior Program Director, 616-855-9679.

PE-Nut Logo Physical Education and Nutrition Education Working Together (PE-Nut)

This article was submitted by the Michigan Fitness Foundation

PE-Nut is a multi-level intervention that teaches nutrition concepts and promotes physical activity. It offers students opportunities to apply what they learn by engaging in taste testings and various physical activities; creating a school environment that supports healthy behaviors; initiating classroom and school policy changes; and sending messages into the home.

Type of Program
Practice-tested school based nutrition education and physical activity promotion program

Years of Implementation

Number of Participants
Approximately 55,000 students in Michigan and their families

Target Audience
Elementary school students and their families

Program Evaluation
The PE-Nut Compendium of Tools™ is the evaluation toolkit used for PE-Nut™. In addition to this Compendium, BMI data has been collected.

Statistics and Program Impact
Overweight/obese students at PE-Nut schools improved their overall BMI by 2.9 percentiles from 2008-2012.

Normal weight students were able to maintain their BMI-z score, and for the overweight/obese weight group students experienced a small decrease in their BMI-z score compared to students who did not participate in PE-Nut.
Data collected from 1,836 students, using That’s Me: My Choices, in 2011-12 indicated student behaviors improved for:

- hand washing (pre=62%, post=76%)
- eating a variety of foods (37% to 61%)
- trying new foods (30% to 51%)
- eating healthy foods (35% to 66%)
-asking parents to buy healthy foods (25% to 50%).

In addition, Parents (n=1,207) reported their children were eating more fruit (27%) and vegetables (39%) compared to before receiving PE-Nut.

For further information please contact Mary Grill. All logos are used with permission.


Michigan Fitness Foundation Logo Michigan Fitness Foundation "They learn from watching you..."

This article was written and submitted by the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

The Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) has conducted the "They learn from watching you..." social marketing campaign since 2006 to expand and enhance on-the-ground SNAP-Ed. The campaign targets low-income families using USDA core nutrition messages -- featuring tools and resources that support fruit and vegetable consumption and daily physical activity.

Campaign Impact
In 2012, those who saw MFF social marketing were significantly more likely than respondents who did not see the social marketing to report readiness to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity (per the Stages of Change Model).

Multi-level Components
In 2013, MFF added new, multi-level components to the "They learn from watching you..." social marketing campaign. These include:

      • School-based nutrition education and taste tests
        Education and taste tests were conducted in 148 USDA Michigan Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program schools. This component included curriculum tie-ins for teachers, physical activity suggestions, and a parent take home newsletter, exposing 80,000 students and parents to different fruits and vegetables each month.

      • Michigan Harvest of the Month grocery store promotion
        Nine stores showcased preparation, taste, and benefits of the same fruits and vegetable promoted in schools. Twenty-seven percent of shoppers surveyed bought vegetables that they had not previously intended to purchase. Fifty percent remembered the demonstration. Store directors/managers stated that their customers responded positively to the promotions.

      • Billboards and bus wraps
        Billboards and bus wraps had the following messages: They learn from watching you: Eat more fruits and veggies and they will too and They learn from watching you: Be active and your kids will too. The messages were displayed from May-August, 2013 in 12 Michigan counties with the highest SNAP participation.

      • Private-sector partnership
        The Lansing Lugnuts, a minor-league baseball team, produced a video public service announcement (PSA) using the same core messaging. The PSA features Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor and his family, and will be played at every 2014 Lugnuts home game, achieving an additional estimated 330,000 eyes-on impressions, at no additional cost.

For further information please contact Marci Scott, PhD, RDN, Michigan Fitness Foundation. All logos are used with permission.