As we celebrate Mother’s Day, it is most appropriate to recognize the important role women play in shaping the eating patterns of their family members and especially, their children. So today, we are launching an updated web site with new messages, tools, and resources to help nutrition educators reach one of the most critically important target groups—moms. FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Women, Infants and Children Program that help individuals and families meet their nutrition needs. Since many participants in these programs are women and children, moms are a high priority for nutrition education because they can make a big impact of the eating habits of their families.
The new resources include 13 audience-tested core nutrition messages, tips for making healthier choices, ideas for tasty meals and snacks that include whole grains, milk, fruits and vegetables, and other easy to use ways to help consumers to understand and put MyPlate recommendations into practice. Testing showed that these materials resonate with moms, provide realistic ways to engage their children, and offer appealing tips to incorporate whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk, and fruits and vegetables into family meals and snacks.
The development of these messages and tools was a collaborative effort. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service sought input from many different program stakeholders and consulted with experts in nutrition education and communications.
But most importantly, we talked to low-income mothers and their children. We conducted 48 focus groups in six cities around the country. Over 75 percent of these women and children participated in one or more nutrition assistance program. Their insights played a key role in making sure these materials are relevant, inspiring and realistic. For example, after hearing that “Mom is a child’s first teacher”, a mother in Birmingham said, “That makes me feel good because that makes me think I’m doing good things and being a good role-model for them.”
Because FNS’ programs together comprise America’s nutrition safety net, encouraging good nutrition is as important to us as fighting hunger. That’s why I’m excited about these nutrition education resources. I hope you will visit the web site and take a look around.