Apples and a pearAbout the Family Nutrition Program

Situation/Program Rationale

Approximately 17.3% of Florida families live at or below the poverty level. A very high percentage of this number are elderly and young children. Within the ten leading causes of death due to disease five are associated with diet: coronary heart disease, several types of cancer, stroke, diabetes mellitus, and arteriosclerosis. Research studies indicate that living in poverty and being undernourished (a high health risk) are closely correlated. The Food Stamp program through the United States Department of Agriculture provides food assistance for America's neediest families. Providing the food resource is only a part of this need. Assistance in utilizing the food stamps for the greatest benefits are essential for individuals and families to get the major impact from their food dollars.

Program Purpose

The purpose of this program is to implement nutrition programming in the school district and at the community level. Through collaborative efforts, low income families will learn the importance of sound nutritional practices and how they can contribute to their health through experiential learning activities.

Current Situation

On an average thirty percent (30%) of all Dixie County and Gilchrist County residents receive food stamps, twenty-three percent (23%) of the children live in poverty and the median effective buying income per household is thirty-five percent (35%) below Florida's average. Residents of these counties are often unprepared for the challenges of living on a budget, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Preferred Situation

Family Nutrition Program participants will understand the importance of food choices for good health, read food labels to make educated decisions on food selection, combine healthy eating with exercise and good hygiene, utilize the U.S. dietary guidelines and the food pyramid to plan meals and snacks, identify and utilize food assistance and educational programs, and adopt dietary practices recommended for specific life-cycle stages.

Significance

Dixie County has a population of 10,933 and of this population 21% receive food stamps, 38% of the children live in poverty, 22% are below the poverty level, the per capita's personal income is 44% below Florida's average per capita personal income, and the median effective buying income per household places Dixie County 67th in the state. Gilchrist County has a population of 10,196 and of this population 7% receive food stamps, 23% of the children live in poverty, 14% are below the poverty level, the per capita's personal income is 38% below Florida's average per capita personal income, and the median effective buying income per household places Gilchrist County 52nd in the state.

Objective

To provide low income families educational opportunities to participate in activities and programs which emphasize managing a low income budget, identification of nutrients needed for good health, selection and preparation of meals to meet special nutritional needs, commodity meal preparation, shopping for nutritious foods utilizing food stamps and proper nutritional practices.