Success Stories

Market Interviews Final II from Teague Nelson on Vimeo.

Robert, 54, lives at a men’s shelter in downtown Lynchburg. The shelter provides only one meal per day, so he relies on SNAP benefits for most of his food. Robert lives in a food desert and relies on public transportation, but the closest full-service grocery store requires him to change busses two or three times, depending on the route. The bust costs $4, and the round trip can take more than an hour.

In September 2013, a SNAP-Ed adult nutrition class conducted at the shelter introduced Robert to the nearby Lynchburg Community Farmers Market. He was intrigued and his interest grew when he learned of the double-bucks program offered by the market. A $10,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Health’s Healthy Eating and Active Living Program allows SNAP recipients to double their benefit dollars at the market. Robert began shopping at the farmers market twice a week, buying fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and breads while making new friends.

Robert is now employed as an apprentice baker at the market. His overall health has improved, as has his confidence. He is a strong advocate for the market and encourages other men living at the shelter to shop there.

   Contributed by Jeanell Smith, Family Nutrition Program Assistant, Lynchburg

Spectacular Spinach Discovery

A large group of 9 children met for the third week of a Cooking Matters class. A few of the kids had not attended the first couple weeks, and they were enlightened by a boy named Kyle who had been present in previous weeks. When the kids and their parents returned inside from an activity, some of the kids were very turned off by the sight of spinach, and things like “yuck” were spread around the room. Kyle decided to share his experience, and proceeded to tell his classmates "She (the PA) feeds you spinach every week, and the first week I thought the same thing but I went ahead and tried it. Now I love it- you need to try it because it’s better than you have heard." After that, all the children tasted it and found out that Kyle was telling the truth. Kyle has encouraged his family to eat more of this leafy green vegetable after his experience in Cooking Matters class; his family now prepares spinach salad with fruit, spinach quesadillas, and omelets made with many vegetables and spinach, weekly.

Contributed by Kim Hairfield, Family Nutrition Program Assistant

Passed-Down Excitement at an Elementary School

A program assistant that had previously worked with the older children at Aberdeen Elementary School’s After School Site using the Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids program had a great experience when she took a trip back recently. These children that had gone through the program before recognized the PA, and they were overjoyed to see her again. These children greeted her at the door, smiling and saying things like “Hello!” and “Oh, great! She’s back!” After they had a chance to calm down, the children asked if the PA was there to work with them again. Much to their dismay, she reported that she was going to work with the younger children at the elementary school this time, using the OrganWise Guys program. After explaining why it was now time for the younger children to go through a class, the older children seemed grateful for their experience and shared encouraging words with the little ones, such as “You are going to have fun and you will make cool things and you will learn about the plate and do fun things.” This program seems to have had a great effect on the children of Aberdeen Elementary shown by their desire for other children to experience it as well.

Contributed by a Family Nutrition Program Assistant

Organs “Stick with you”

A program assistant brought the Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids program to a specific site during the summer, and came across a student that had previously been in a class that was taught the OrganWise Guys program. The PA was carrying a bag with OrganWise Guys insignia on it, and this sparked this particular boy’s attention. When he saw the bag, he shouted, “I know who they are!” Once he brought it to the PA’s attention that he had been to the class, he was asked to share what he learned. The boy was very giggly while recollecting the names of the organs, especially when he needed a bit of prompting for some of the names. The PA reported that it was so good to see him “showing off” what he learned during the previous classes.

Contributed by a Family Nutrition Program Assistant

Improving Lifestyle One Step at a Time

A mother of a six year old child that worked alongside a program assistant reported that she had decided to stop drinking soda and stop smoking. She also said that choosing to eat healthier has made her feel better and helped to keep her diabetes under control. These are examples of two important changes that really have a great impact on this woman’s life, along with the lives of her family and friends.

Contributed by Christina Knowsley, Family Nutrition Program Assistant

Small Changes for Large Improvements

One senior adult, referred by the Department of Social Services to the work with a program assistant gave an encouraging report recently. This lady explained that she was “making better choices for herself and her grandkids in terms of their eating habits and that their lifestyle has been much better because of the changes made.” She also went on to describe that she has more energy and is able to care for her grandkids and their house much better than she could before she made positive changes. These specific behaviors include eating more low-fat foods instead of full-fat versions of the same food, more whole grain foods, and no longer drinking sodas.

Contributed by Christina Knowsley, Family Nutrition Program Assistant

An Example of Success on the Inside and Outside

Tyrone, a participant in one of the program assistant’s adult classes gave an enlightening report while on the phone scheduling his next meeting. He was so excited to share his news that he picked up the phone to call his respective PA at 8:30 in the morning. Based on Tyrone’s recent doctor’s visit, he had lost 10 pounds since his last check-up. He was boastful about the class, and said that his weight loss was due to how much the class had helped him. The program assistant responded by saying that his positive changes both physically and in his outlook on life were because of his individual decision to create healthy changes.

Contributed by Mary Belman, Adult Program Assistant

Portions, Persistence & Patience

Jessica, single mother of an eight year old girl named Madison was enrolled in the Family Nutrition Program with an Educational Support Specialist. Her participation prompted her to seek the advice of this specialist on her daughter’s health. At Madison’ annual physical, the pediatrician voiced concern about her weight. He said she was slightly overweight for her age, and he recommended that she lose several pounds. After the lesson about portion sizes, Jessica asked the specialist for unique suggestions. The two women discussed the importance of reading labels, using smaller plates, selecting food lower in calories, and tracking what she and her daughter eat each day. She gave Jessica two journals, one for each of them, and right away, both mother and daughter began to keep track of their eating habits. About six months after, Jessica had already graduated from the Family Nutrition Program, and soon after she ran into her specialist and had great news to share with her. Madison had lost 10 pounds, increased her weekly exercise levels by swimming three times per week, and had continued to keep a food journal. Madison’s dad called during a trip to California to say how pleased he was with Madison’s healthy habits, showing that Madison’s healthy behaviors were being supported by her family members. When offered cheese puffs for a snack Madison refused them because she didn’t want to write them in her food journal. Being overjoyed with the news from Jessica, the specialist was also delighted to hear that Madison no longer asks for second helpings.

Contributed by Johanna Hahn, FNP Program Coordinator

Robert’s Success Story

Robert is a single black male, aged 54, who lives in downtown Lynchburg at the Gateway men’s shelter. As of August 2013, he was unemployed. He currently receives SNAP and relies on SNAP for most of his food budget. The shelter provides one meal per day, and other than that he purchases his food elsewhere. Robert does not own a car and relies on public transportation. He lives in a food desert; the closest full-service grocery store is two miles away and requires changing buses two or three times, depending on the chosen route. The cost of the ride is $2.00 each way and the round trip, not including shopping time, can be over an hour.

In September 2013, during a SNAP-Ed Adult Nutrition Education Class conducted at the Gateway shelter, Robert learned about the Lynchburg Community Farmer’s Market, which is located right across the street from the Gateway. He was intrigued initially, and his interest was deepened when he learned of the current double-bucks program offered by the market. This $10,000 grant from Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL), via the Virginia Department of Health, allows SNAP recipients to double their money at the market. Robert became a twice a week shopper at the market and not only enjoyed buying fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and breads, but made many new friends.

Currently, Robert is now employed by the market, where he works as an apprentice baker at the bakery. His overall health has improved as well as his confidence. He is a profound advocate of the market now and not only encourages other men of Gateway to shop there, but takes the time to take them there and show them the ropes.

Contributed by Jeanell Smith, Family Nutrition Program Assistant, Lynchburg

Teen Cuisine Impacts Middle School Students in Southwest Virginia

The Family Nutrition Program partners with the Home Studies class at Riverview Middle School to teach students how to eat smart. This partnership benefits the students, who have learned many valuable life skills, including cooking, food safety and the relationship between food and health. The Home Studies teacher is grateful for the workbooks and food for cooking experiences provided by the Family Nutrition Program because she struggles to offer enriching, hands-on activities on the limited budget allowed for her class.

The students are amazed at the lessons learned in this class. One girl in particular was shocked when she learned how germs are spread, saying “Ms. Sonja, no wonder my family stays sick. We never wash off counter tops and seldom wash our hands.” A generous grant from the Walmart 4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice program allows the Family Nutrition Program, as well as Cooperative Extension Agents, the ability to offer this interactive program to teach Virginia teens real world life skills that will form the basis of a healthy lifestyle into adulthood.

Contributed by Sonja Honaker, Youth Family Nutrition Program Assistant, Buchanan

Cedar Bluff Elementary School offers the OrganWise Guys and Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids programs from the Family Nutrition Program to their students. The students wanted to do something to promote the “Be Active” lessons they had learned last year. So at the start of this school year, they formed a “Mileage Club” to increase physical activity among their fellow students. Every day the kids are given the option to walk before school, after school, during their recess and any other time the teachers allow. By the 4th full week of school, some students had already walked over 30 miles, just during school time. The goal set was to have each student walk at least 100 miles by the last day of school. At this pace, several will reach that goal and exceed it by Winter Break!

Contributed by Ollena Jackson, Program Assistant

Mr. L weighed 263 pounds and was using 5 different pills to control his high blood pressure and diabetes when he enrolled in the Family Nutrition Program. Since joining the Eating Smart, Being Active program, he has lost 43 pounds. In Eating Smart, Being Active, Mr. L learned portion control and healthy eating habits that he shared with his family. Because of the healthy changes he has made, he doesn’t need as many pills, saving him money each month. He is now a role model for his family and the children eat more fruit and vegetables, just from watching their dad make smart choices.

Contributed by Janet Hutchins, Program Assistant

A young Latino woman enrolled in the Family Nutrition Program and learned the importance of Moving More. She took the lessons to heart and actually paid for a gym pass so that she could start exercising. It was very hard for her to find the motivation to go to the gym at first, but she made herself do it. After a short time, she was hooked on exercising daily and found that she did not want to miss going. She lost about 40 pounds and feels healthier and happier than ever before. This graduate now helps promote the Family Nutrition Program to other women and happily shares what the program did for her!

Contributed by Ofelia Tapia, Program Assistant


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.  

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