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Nebraska Extension helps connect Nebraskans with the resources, research and innovation of the University of Nebraska. Nebraska Extension is dedicated to helping Nebraskans live their best, healthiest lives by fostering environments, policies and systems that enable health. The Nutrition Education Program (NEP) is one way Nebraska Extension fosters health by using evidence-based, comprehensive approaches to engage low-income families to make healthier food and physical activity choices on a limited budget.

NEP provides nutrition classes to limited-resource youth and adult groups in partnership with other community-serving organizations to accomplish the following goals for Lincoln’s low-income families:

  • Enhanced Nutrition to improve health and help reduce chronic disease rates.
  • Proper Food Safety and Storage Practices to improve food safety and storage practices for less illness from food poisoning and spoilage
  • Resourceful Management of Food Dollars to help families stretch their budgets

This year, NEP presented hands-on, interactive educational programs in over 400 classrooms and community partner sites and taught over 250 adults and 200 youth in partnership with community agencies and non-profit organizations. Additionally, 100% of Lincoln Public School students received nutrition education through Nebraska Extension’s Nutrition School Enrichment curriculum, providing over 20,000 LPS elementary students with nutrition education as well as receiving one hands-on, Extension-led nutrition or physical activity lesson in each classroom every year.

Beyond direct education, NEP coordinates other efforts to embed nutrition and health within our community, including:

  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Childcare Centers to help enhance nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in centers. In 2023, ten childcare sites adopted healthier policies and practices, impacting over 1,000 children.
  • Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB)  for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to increase their fruit and vegetable intake, DUFB doubles the amount of money a SNAP recipient can spend on fresh fruits and vegetables while increasing local produce sales. DUFB provides over $100,000 in fresh produce to SNAP participants each year
  • Growing Together Nebraska Donation Garden (GTN) a donation garden project funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education that increases food security and promotes healthy food access for families and individuals who are nutrition insecure. Over 1,500 pounds of produce was grown and gleaned in the three GTN gardens in 2022 and impacting nearly 400 families.
  • Health Equity: Nebraska Extension is fostering a ‘culture of health’ by hosting Lincoln’s Health Equity Coalition with youth and adults members and training youth and adult volunteers to bring wellness into the community.

The Health Equity Coalition is open to all who believe in health equity and the power of collective action. Efforts are focused on resource sharing, building trusting relationships, equitable transportation, advocating for just healthcare systems.

For more information and to learn how to partner, contact Emily Gratopp.