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Cox grants to help improve diets

By Nancy Templeman

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 31 - May 9, 1996

Two U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Consumer Service grants totaling $794,500 will help Virginians improve their diets. The grants are being administered through Virginia Tech by Ruby H. Cox, associate professor of human nutrition and foods (HNF) and state EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) director.

Cox says a $710,000 grant is funding the implementation of the Food Stamp Recipient Education Program, "Smart Food Choices Nutrition Education Project." The second grant is $84,500 for the Virginia Food Stamp Network Project.

The Smart Choices Nutrition Education Project has been funded for one year and is coordinating its efforts with the Virginia Department of Social Services. Paraprofessionals are being hired to work with the family-and-consumer-sciences agents in 26 local Virginia Cooperative Extension offices. They will use teaching methods similar to those used in EFNEP materials to teach individual or small-group classes for homemakers and other adults in food-stamp households about nutrition, meal preparation, and grocery shopping. They will also use Smart Food Choices in the Grocery Store co-authored by Joan Elledge, an EFNEP field specialist, and Cox.

Elledge is providing assistance to Cox in hiring, training, and providing materials for the implementation of the food-stamp education project and EFNEP. Three other HNF faculty members are working with Cox and Elledge to develop new teaching materials for this in-depth nutrition education program and to implement the grant. Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist Denise Brochetti is preparing materials for and training and coordinating Extension agents in nutrition education for the elderly. Associate Professor Douglas R. Southard provides expertise in developing a social marketing approach into the program and will plan and collect data and analyze the data for evaluation of the process.

Virginia Food Stamp Network Project is a network of state agencies and private organizations working together to provide food-stamp recipients with effective, science-based food and nutrition education through a "social marketing" technique. They are using a mass-media approach to encourage the wise use of food stamps and other food resources and to improve eating practices among the 230,000 food stamp households in Virginia.

Since November 15, Judy Midkiff, CHE, has served as the coordinator for the state network. A day-long workshop was held in Richmond in January and goals and strategies were prioritized, with three objectives being selected for accomplishment during the first year of the network's operation.