FSNE Guiding Principles

FSNE has six guiding principles or goals that define the program and unify the vision of FSNE programs across the United States:
 
1. “Food Stamp Nutrition Education is intended for food stamp participants and individuals eligible for the Food Stamp Program.” 
 Those who are eligible for the program are those described in federal legislation and regulations. Food Stamp participants themselves are at the heart of FSNE. Because many individuals participate in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), they are also considered to be part of this cohort. A household income of less than 130% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) is generally seen as a qualifier for FSNE. There are also certain settings that have a high likelihood of reaching program eligibles; when the program is offered in these settings, a waiver is not required:
·        Food Stamp/TANF offices
·        Public Housing Sites
·        Food Banks
·        Job readiness or training programs for FSP/TANF recipients
 Additionally, the program can be offered in any venue in which >50% of the individuals participating are under the 185% of the FPG. These sites may include but are not limited to schools, child care centers, Summer Food Service Program sites, community centers and grocery stores. 
 
2. “Food Stamp Nutrition Education is a set of learning experiences designed to facilitate the voluntary adoption of eating and other nutrition-related behaviors conducive to health and well being for those on a limited budget.”
 Education for food stamp participants is specialized to address their limited resources. There is an emphasis placed on efficient utilization of food resources, particularly food stamp benefits and other food assistance programs.
 
3. “Food Stamp Nutrition Education has the greatest potential impact on the nutrition-related behaviors of the overall food stamp population when it targets women and children in food stamp eligible households.”
Although there are increasing funds for FSNE, the amount per food stamp participant is minimal. In order to make the most effective use of this money, FSNE is promoted primarily to the women and children in households although all eligibles are encouraged to participate.
 
Mothers are viewed as the “gatekeeper” to food purchases, with a reported 69% of shoppers at grocery stores being women. Children follow a mother’s example in nutrition-related habits and as reported by parents, tend to influence that which is purchased at the store. As such, mothers and children have the largest influence on food purchases and meal decisions in a household.
 
Women and children as a cohort shared by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) have the opportunity to receive a reinforcement of nutrition principles when also targeted by FSNE.
 
4. “Food Stamp Nutrition Education uses science-based, behaviorally-focused interventions and can maximize its national impact by concentrating on a small set of key outcomes.”  
 States with FSNE must demonstrate that their program is meaningful within their target audience and is successful in promoting desired changes. FSNE utilizes behaviorally-focused messages, incentives and reinforcements that are meaningful to the target audience, approaches for active engagement and multiple channels of communication to maximize exposure to the message. The idea is to deliver a message specialized for the individual to facilitate better comprehension and promote application. FSNE efforts are focused on the following outcomes:
 
  • “Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat milk or milk products every day.”
  • “Be physically active every day as part of a healthy lifestyle.”
  • “Balance calorie intake from foods and beverages with calories expended.”
 These behaviors are associated with a general decrease in disease risk which is extremely important for this population in that they have a disproportionate amount of diet-related health problems.
 
5. “Food Stamp Nutrition Education can maximize its reach when coordination and collaboration take place among a variety of stakeholders at the local, State, regional and national levels.”
 FSNE is encouraged to collaborate with other FNS sponsored nutrition programs to deliver the message as effectively as possible. FSNE providers are also encouraged to participate in their State Nutrition Action Plans (SNAP) and collaborate with local health providers, agencies, advocacy groups, etc. to deliver the message more effectively.
 
6. “Food Stamp Nutrition Education is enhanced when the specific roles and responsibilities of local, State, regional and national food stamp agencies and nutrition education providers are defined and put into practice.” With each group and agency in its place, the program can be the most effective.