All Faiths Food Bank launches expanded nutrition education effort funded by Florida DCF

All Faiths Food Bank's nutrition education team, from left, includes Claudia Castillo, nutrition educator, Kristina Richardson, nutrition education manager, and Courtney DeFrank, nutrition educator.

All Faiths Food Bank’s nutrition education team, from left, includes Claudia Castillo, nutrition educator, Kristina Richardson, nutrition education manager, and Courtney DeFrank, nutrition educator.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families has awarded All Faiths Food Bank and eight other Feeding Florida food banks and organizations a contract for the nutrition education program SNAP-Ed.

SNAP-Ed is an effort to help lower-income Florida residents to improve the quality of their diet and prevent chronic diseases.

“We are proud to be a trusted partner of the Florida DCF in helping our neighbors in Sarasota and DeSoto counties to lead healthier lives,” All Faiths Food Bank chief program officer MJ Horen said. “This program aligns perfectly with our new strategic plan, which emphasizes meeting people where they are in our efforts to reverse the cycle of poverty and end hunger before it even begins.”

The program offers nutrition education and obesity prevention services using a combination of approaches, including educational strategies and environmental supports designed to promote healthy food and physical activity choices and other nutrition-related behaviors.

According to a study in eight Southeast states published in the Journal of Nutritional Science in 2020, “adults and children in SNAP-Ed programs are more likely to make a number of positive behavior changes, including eating more fruit and vegetables.”

The contract provides funding for All Faiths Food Bank to promote one team member and hire two new staff members. Nutrition education manager Kristina Richardson, who has worked at All Faiths since 2018, will oversee the nutrition education team. New hires are nutrition educators Claudia Castillo, who is bilingual in Spanish/English and has a decade of providing nutrition education to children and adults in Sarasota County, and Courtney DeFrank, who has nonprofit experience providing inclusive programming in Manatee County.

All Faiths expects to serve nearly 1,500 participants in Sarasota and DeSoto counties in the coming year.

Components of the SNAP-Ed curriculum include “Cooking Matters,” developed by Share Our Strength, which teaches participants to shop smarter and make healthier choices (for parents of children ages 0-5); and “Food Smarts,” a direct education intervention developed by Leah’s Pantry, which is designed to support healthy behavior in the areas of eating, food safety, cooking, food waste reduction, and food resource management (for adults 18-plus).

For more information, allfaithsfoodbank.org.

Submitted by Sharon Kunkel

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: All Faiths Food Bank launches expanded nutrition education effort

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