Family Nutrition Program
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.
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.
- Be Heart Smart! Eat Foods Lower in Saturated Fats and Cholesterol
- Common Ground: Why Should University Faculty Partner with Virginia Cooperative Extension?
- Spice It Up!
- 20 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store
- Use Your EBT (food stamp) Card at Your Local Virginia Farmers Market!
- Keep You and Your Family Lean with Lean PROTEIN
- Nutrition Assistance Programs in Virginia
- Assistance Program Eligibility Screening Tool
- SNAP Retailer Locator
- Farmers Market Locator (Find markets that accept SNAP Benefits)
- Nutrition For Everyone from the Centers for Disease Control
- Community Corner: Nutrition for You and Your Family
- Department of Education School Nutrition
- Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth
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.
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.
|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.|
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.
|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 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.
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, 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:
|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 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.
|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.|
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 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.
|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.|
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.
|January||Think Your Drink|
|April||Power Up with Breakfast|
|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|
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.
The Farmers Market Cooking Coaches program teaches basic cooking skills and nutrition to farmers market shoppers at markets across the commonwealth. Using the “Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables” curriculum these demonstrations are quick, interactive, and specific to teaching health benefits and cooking tips about produce sold in the market that day. If you catch a Farmers Market Cooking Coaches demonstration you will have the chance to learn something new, try a healthy and fresh recipe, and take the recipe home to try it yourself!
Topics covered include:
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Shopping at the farmers market on a budget
- The basics of storing fresh produce
- Food safety
- My Plate
- Easy Meal Planning
- Healthy Portions
- How to read a Nutrition Facts label
- Cooking with beans
Interested in our recipes using produce you can find at Virginia’s farmers markets? Visit our toolkit.
The Farmers Market Cooking Coaches program is always looking for volunteers to do cooking demonstrations and education at farmers markets that accept SNAP. If you are interested, please contact you local FCS SNAP-Ed agent for more information.
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 by going to the Team tab.
Virginia Cooperative Extension’s recipe collection features nutrient-dense, low-cost, and healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. These recipes have been tested and used with families so you know you are preparing the best for your family and friends.
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.
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: