Spring 1987 // Volume 25 // Number 1 // Ideas at Work // 1IAW3

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Eating Right Is Basic


Elizabeth M. Szymanski
Extension Home Economist
Midland County
Michigan State University
Midland, MI

Ten percent of Midland County's 24,000 families receive public assistance through monthly food stamp allotments-not nearly enough for an EFNEP program, but more than enough to be considered a priority audience.

To meet their nutrition education needs, we assembled a series of correspondence packets using existing "Eating Right Is Basic" materials. They involved five different correspondence packets, activity sheets, and pre-post test evaluations. The lessons covered:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, fish, and beans
  • Bread and cereal
  • Milk and cheese
  • Menu planning

Grant money supplied by the Salvation Army was used to fund printing and return postage, at a cost of $7.14 per family.

The Midland County Department of Social Services helped distribute the initial promotional information. To ensure the confidentiality of their mailing list and the clientele, a small coupon was inserted into the monthly food stamp envelope. Those interested in participating in the "Eating Right Is Basic" correspondence course completed the coupon and returned it to the Extension office.

Seventy-two families signed up for the course. Participants were sent a pre-test survey to be returned in a stamped, self-addressed envelope before receiving the materials. Each lesson included about five pages of written text with instructions to stop at different points and do the related activities. A post-test followed each lesson.

Of the 72 participants (five male, 67 female), 55% completed all five lessons. They showed an average knowledge increase of 15% and several practice changes.

Although this was a nontraditional attempt to reach a low-income audience, strengthened relationships among the community agencies were evident as a result of the pooled effort to reach a common goal.