Supporting Individuals, Families and Communities in Michigan through Nutrition and Physical Activity Education

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June 8, 2021 - Author:

IMPACTS

Through MSU Extension’s nutrition and physical activity programming, Michigan adults, families and children gained crucial knowledge about nutrition and healthy foods, increased their daily physical activity and reduced their food insecurity.

PRIORITY AREAS

◦ Delivering evidence-based, hands-on nutrition and physical activity learning opportunities
◦ Empowering youth, adults and families with limited resources by sharing information and strategies to make healthy behavior and lifestyle choices
◦ Promoting active lifestyles and healthy habits

CONNECTING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, outreach in a virtual space has been perhaps more important than ever. Throughout 2020, MSU Extension’s MI Health Matters social media campaign continued to expand reach via technology to deliver nutrition and physical activity messages. In particular, MSU Extension created and circulated over 1,100 physical activity and education posts to adults via Facebook and Instagram. More than 240 videos – everything from cooking tips to exercise demonstrations – were made available through the MI Health Matters Facebook page and YouTube channel. Overall, the MI Health Matters social media campaign reached over 466,000 viewers in 2020, highlighting food resource management information, recipe preparation and physical activity. MSU Extension community nutrition instructors hosted a variety of Facebook Live chats to share key nutrition messages. Additionally, as part of the MI Health Matters social media campaign, eight Neighborhood Nutrition podcasts were created as a way for MSU Extension community nutrition instructors to share tips and tricks about stretching food budgets while staying healthy. Listen to the podcasts at canr.msu.edu/nutrition/neighborhood-nutrition.

SUPPORTING INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Food insecurity and financial strain increased in 2020, due to the impacts of the pandemic. As a result, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 12.9% of Michigan households were food insecure or struggled to afford a nutritionally adequate diet. To stay safe while meeting its mission, MSU Extension pivoted to virtual nutrition education programming throughout the year to assist participants in navigating barriers to nutritious food and healthy habits. In 2020, MSU Extension provided over 300 virtual nutrition and physical activity classes reaching participants across the state.

ENSURING FOOD SECURITY FOR REFUGEES DURING COVID-19

MSU Extension community nutrition instructor Sulaiman Mansour works closely with the refugee population in southeastern Michigan. Many refugees who participated in Mansour’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education (SNAP-Ed) classes shared fears of shopping because of COVID-19 and not knowing how to make healthy food choices. Mansour instructed participants on reading nutrition labels, accessing the Double Up Food Bucks program and understanding the seasonality of fruits and vegetables; yet, he saw that additional support was needed due to the special challenges posed by the pandemic.

He showed participants how to use grocery store apps, how to place orders online for pick-up or delivery, and how to create shopping lists based on location in the store to more efficiently and quickly shop for food. The additional support assisted his SNAP-Ed participants in a way that allowed them to make and access healthy food choices and navigate a store and language barriers while adhering to social distancing. Participants conveyed their fears of shopping for groceries were alleviated, because they did not need to ask for help and they had access to food that helped them feel secure, especially during the pandemic.

CONNECTING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES

For over six years, Derrick Harrison, an MSU Extension community nutrition instructor, provided SNAP-Ed nutrition education programs at the Stallworth Adult Foster Care Home–Linwood in Detroit, a home for adults with disabilities. Each year, the participants look forward to learning how to prepare tasty and nutritious recipes and how to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Due to safety concerns from the pandemic in 2020, the class needed to pivot to a virtual format.

Harrison was able to build a relationship with a resident named Joe in the home whom he had worked with previously. Joe was shy and reluctant to be in the class at first; however, it was discovered that Joe had outstanding technology skills. Harrison worked with him to assist other residents at Stallworth to connect with the SNAP-Ed nutrition education series via Zoom on their computers. Joe even coordinated with Harrison to provide on-site food demonstrations for residents. The participants were excited to be connected to the class and learned about healthy and nutritious foods and strategies to make healthy choices every day.

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Tags: community, food and health, food & health, food security, hni impacts 2020, human health, msu extension, nutrition, physical activity

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