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Welcome to the Family Nutrition Program! On this site, you will find handy tips for eating smart, tasty recipes that fit into even the tightest budget and advice on sharing love, not germs, in the kitchen.

    EFNEP and SNAP-Ed logos

The Family Nutrition Program’s mission is to teach limited-resource families and youth how to make healthier food choices and become better managers of available food resources for optimal health and growth. Our programs focus on basic nutrition, physical activity, safe food handling, and thrifty food shopping.

The Family Nutrition Program is offered through Virginia Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach partnership between Virginia Tech and Virginia State University.

Our funding comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to offer the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to offer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) in Virginia.

The Family Nutrition Program offers a range of programs to teach the basics of healthy eating, active living, food safety, and menu planning on a budget.

Adult Programs

Eating Smart and Moving More
    Eating smart and moving more logo

Eating Smart and Moving More helps our adult clients to make healthy changes by teaching ways to choose and prepare nutritious meals and to be more physically active. These lessons are fun, interactive and full of great information to inspire clients to eat smart and move more every day. Last year, 42,919 adults in Virginia participated in this program.

Eating Smart and Moving More is a program developed by North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Topics

MyPlate Families learn how to use MyPlate as a guide to eating smart and to balance energy from food and physical activity.
Shop For Value, Check the Facts Families learn to use labels to compare different foods.
Choosing More Fruits and Vegetables Families learn how to add a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables to their plates each day.
Choosing to Move More Throughout the Day Families learn ways to move more every day.
Fix it Safe Families learn how to keep food safe to prevent illness.
Smart-Size Your Portions and Right-size You Families learn how to use proper portion sizes to eat smart and be healthy.
Eat Smart, Being Active
    image of Eating Smart and Being Active icon

Eating Smart • Being Active teaches our adult clients how to make positive lifestyle choices for good nutrition and health. The program is tailored to how adults learn best, with discussions, hands-on activities, and practical advice for making healthy behavior changes. Last year, 3,820 adults participated in this program.

Eating Smart • Being Active was developed by EFNEP staff at Colorado State University and the University of California at Davis.

Topics

Get Moving Families learn easy ways to enjoy being active.
Plan, Shop, Save Families learn how to plan and shop for food that is healthy and within their budget.
Vary Your Veggies, Focus on Fruit Families learn ways to eat more fruits and veggies every day.
Make Half Your Grains Whole Families learn how choose whole grains using food labels.
Build Strong Bones Families learn how to get enough calcium from food to grow strong bones.
Go Lean with Protein Families learn how to choose lean protein foods and keep food safe to eat.
Make a Change Families learn ways to cut back on fat, sugar, and salt.
Celebrate! Eat Smart & Be Active Families celebrate all they have learned about eating smart and being active.
Cook Smart, Eat Smart
    Cook Smart, Eat Smart logo

Cook Smart, Eat Smart is a program that teaches how to prepare simple, healthy and delicious food for beginning home cooks. The preparation techniques, ingredients and equipment are simple so that anyone can learn to prepare healthy meals at home on a budget.

Cooking techniques covered include: roasting, marinades, stir frying, rice, grilling, crock pot, one-pot meals, baking, steaming, soup, packet cooking, sautéing, simple appetizers, salad and salad dressing, quick breads, pasta, and eggs.

Other topics covered include: 10 keys to cooking smart, food safety, shopping, unit pricing, nutrition label, buying meat, family favorites, perfect pantry, portion control, knives, eating together as a family, setting the table, and entertaining.

 

Youth Program

Organwise Guys
    image of Organwise Guys

OrganWise Guys is a fun, interactive, evidence-based program for grades K-2. Using puppets of different internal organs, kids learn about how what we eat and how we move affect our bodies, empowering kids to be “smart from the inside out.” 

As a bonus for the teachers who work with us, OrganWise Guys adheres to the Virginia Standards of Learning while helping to reduce childhood obesity. In Virginia, 9,000 children learned about healthy living from the OrganWise Guys program last year.

Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids
    image of Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids icon

Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids, created by Virginia Cooperative Extension, teaches children in grades 3-7 about healthy lifestyle choices. Last year, 3,106 children participated in this program.

Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids focuses on the following key topics that are critical for all children, regardless of weight:

Topics

Smart Foods Students learn the importance of nutrition and MyPlate.
Smart Choices Students learn how to enjoy food in moderation by choosing the right serving size.
Smart Drinks Students learn about healthy beverages choices.
Smart Snacks Students learn to make healthy snack choices.
Smart Activities Students learn the importance of being active.
Teen Cuisine

Teen Cuisine is a hands-on cooking program created by the Virginia Family Nutrition Program that teaches students in grades 8-12 important life skills for eating smart, which will stay with them as they grow into adults. Lessons cover how to choose healthy foods and prevent food borne illness. With a cooking demonstration in each lesson, students learn by doing. 

Last year, 1,130 teens learned to cook nutritious foods safely with the Teen Cuisine program.

Topics

Eat Smart Students learn the basics of MyPlate, hand washing and using a knife safely.
You Are What You Eat Students learn how to read food labels to choose healthy food.
Power Up With Protein Students learn how each nutrient from the food label affects our bodies.
Fight The Fat Students learn ways to make smart choices when eating out and the health effects of different types of fat.
Have A Plan Students learn how to plan meals and what happens to food in the Temperature Danger Zone.
A Healthy And Happy Teen Students review all they have learned about eating smart and cooking healthy.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
    image of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables icon

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a federal program to provide funding to schools to serve free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to elementary school students. The program targets schools with high numbers of students receiving free and reduced lunch. 

Providing nutrition and health education along with introducing children to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is an important part of the program. The Family Nutrition Program has developed nutrition education materials to be used in participating schools.

Please contact your local Nutrition Outreach Instructor (NOI) for more information regarding the use of our curriculum for your school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Growing Healthy Habits

Growing Healthy Habits is a garden-based nutrition education program used in elementary schools to promote consumption of a wide variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. Research shows that children who are involved in gardening are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

Topics

What’s So Great About Gardening? Students learn about the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet, taste test tomatoes and learn how food gets from field to fork.
Parts of the Plant That We Eat Students learn basic plant anatomy and function, as well as examples of different foods that represent each plant part.
Feed the Soil… and the Soil Will Feed You! Students learn the role of soil in plant health and how soil is formed.
Variety: The Spice of Life! Students learn the importance of variety in a healthy diet and healthy garden.
Plan Your Planting Students learn about the different growing conditions required by plants and create a planting schedule as well as prepare a healthy snack.
Seed Magic Students will learn how seeds grow into new plants and taste a snack made from edible seeds.
Keep It Growing Students learn about plant competition and the importance of water for growing plants and growing bodies.
Healthy Harvest Students learn the economic value of growing plants and eating a healthy diet.
Garden Fitness Students learn how food is a source of energy for physical activity.

 

Community Programs

Smart Choices in the Grocery Store
    two women grocery shopping

Smart Choices in the Grocery Store is a “point-of-purchase” grocery store experience to provide a taste test, recipe ideas, nutrition information displays and handouts, and store intercom messages about a different topic each month.

Smart Choices in the Grocery Store was created by the Virginia Family Nutrition Program to target grocery stores with high SNAP redemption to better reach low-income Virginians, encouraging them to eat smart.

Monthly Topics

January Think Your Drink
February Heart Healthy
March Portion Distortion
April Power Up with Breakfast
May Reducing Sodium
June Getting Calcium for a Lifetime
July Focus on Fruit
August Vary Your Veggies
September Increasing Whole Grains
October Super Smart Snacks
November Food Safety at Thanksgiving and Every Day
December Healthy Holiday
Food Security

The Food Security Program is designed to increase the food security of low-income Virginians. The program does this in a variety of ways including:

  • Increasing the linkages between SNAP recipients and their local farmers markets by helping markets develop their abilities to accept and welcome SNAP recipients through creating an EBT toolkit.
  • Training volunteers to perform low cost, healthy meal demonstrations at markets that accept SNAP.
  • Educating SNAP participants to use their benefits to buy food-bearing plant starts and seeds.
  • Demonstrating the basics of container gardening for youth participants with the goal that they will help their families start small gardens at home.
  • Piloting the use of "garden prescriptions" and community gardens to increase engagement in SNAP-Ed, WIC, and gardening with the New River Health District.

For more information on any of these projects, please contact Food Security Project Coordinator Meredith Ledlie Johnson at meredil@vt.edu or 540-231-1704.

Program Lesson

Publications

Faith-based and Community Volunteer Project

The Faith-based and Community Volunteer Project reaches limited-resource families through collaborators and volunteers. Outreach to our target audience is accomplished through partnerships with teachers, school nurses, librarians, parents, chefs, after-school program staff, and school nutrition staff, as well as state-level agencies and community organizations. The use of collaborators and volunteers allows the Family Nutrition Program to reach an even greater number of people and spread our message of Eat Smart, Move More for a healthier Virginia. 

Nutrition Outreach Instructors (NOI) help to train and coordinate collaborators and volunteers in their regions to deliver nutrition and healthy lifestyle education using the Family Nutrition Program’s curricula. If you are interested in becoming a community collaborator or volunteer, please contact your local NOI or Judy Stevens, the statewide Project Associate, using this map.

Contact with Communities

During 2012-2013, 1,147 community volunteers reached 33,328 youth and 1,091 adults with comprehensive nutrition education. In total, the volunteers donated 8,857 hours equaling an estimated economic contribution of $106,284. In addition to comprehensive lessons, community volunteers reached 1,448,271 individuals with short-term nutrition education through venues such as community health fairs, parent newsletters, DSS waiting rooms, grocery stores, and television cooking programs.

If you are interested in signing up for one of these programs, or would like to work with the Family Nutrition Program to offer these programs in your organization, please contact us.

Who we serve

  • Family Nutrition Program served 133,542 Virginians with direct nutrition education in fiscal year 2013.
  • Family Nutrition Program served 149,022 Virginians with direct nutrition education in fiscal year 2012.
  • Family Nutrition Program served 131,427 Virginians in fiscal year 2011.

Our impact

The Family Nutrition Program makes a difference in the lives of our participants. After graduating from our programs, families choose more healthful foods, are more physically active and are less at risk for food borne illnesses and chronic diseases. For every $1 spent on nutrition education, $10.64 is saved in future health care costs.

Participants of the Family Nutrition Program are better able to manage their food budget, which improves their ability to feed their family all month long and increases food security. Improving food security (having access to enough nutritious food at all times to fuel a healthy life) leads to benefits such as better school performance, decreased health care costs, and a bridge out of poverty.

See more Family Nutrition Program Success Stories.

Name/Title Phone Email
    Austin Brooks
Austin Brooks
Social Media
Coordinator
540-231-2484 anb1044@vt.edu
    Anne-Carter Carrington
Anne-Carter Carrington
Area Coordinator
(Central District)
434-476-9927 acarring@vt.edu
    Stephanie Diehl
Stephanie C. Diehl
Area Coordinator
(Northern District)
540-432-6029 sdiehl@vt.edu
    Johanna Hahn
Johanna Hahn
Area Coordinator
(Southeast District)
757-591-4838 jhahn@vt.edu
    Meredith Ledlie Johnson
Meredith Ledlie Johnson
Food Security and
Farmers Market —
EBT Coordinator
540-231-1704 meredithledlie@vt.edu
    Gina Kindred
Gina Moore Kindred
Area Coordinator
(Southeast District)
757-514-4339 ginam@vt.edu
    Lynn Margheim
Lynn Margheim
Training and
Professional Development
Coordinator
540-231-4900 lynn85@vt.edu
    Mary Ann McFarland
Mary Ann McFarland
Area Coordinator
(Southwest District)
276-619-4335 mamcfar@vt.edu
    Mary McFerren
Mary M. McFerren
Project Director
540-231-9429 mmcferre@vt.edu
    Judith Midkiff
Judith Midkiff
Director of Operations
and Evaluation
804-527-4252 jmidkiff@vt.edu
    Elena Serrano
Elena Serrano
FNP Transition
Coordinator
540-231-3464 serrano@vt.edu
  Judith Stevens
Volunteer Coordinator
540-432-6029 jstevens@vt.edu
Beverages
Breakfast
Dessert
Main Dishes
Salads and Soups
Side Dishes
Snacks

Beverage Recipes

 


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an equal opportunity provider and employer. This material is partially funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP which provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your county or city Department of Social Services or to locate your county office call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays). By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services. This material was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, NIFA.


    FNP logo


Contact FNP

The state office for the Family Nutrition Program is located at Virginia Tech in Wallace Hall in Blacksburg, VA. If you would like to participate in our Family Nutrition Program, call the Virginia Family Nutrition Information and Referral Line, toll free, at: 888-814-7627.  

Contact your local county office:

Meet the FNP team


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