East Arkansas Enterprise Community
Key stakeholders including youth and adults program participants identified the following needs or barriers to participation in the USDA nutrition assistance programs focused on in this project in St. Francis County in order to increase participation and improve coordination among the programs. All students in the St. Francis County School District are eligible to participate free breakfast, lunch and summer meals; and, the USDA 2014 Profile of SNAP Households in Arkansas revealed that seventy (70) percent of eligible households participate in the program.
- Need to find strategies to motivate students to consume the food that is served inthe schools in the nutrition assistance programs; and, to reduce the amount of foodthat students discard at mealtime;
- Need to improve the geographic access to students to the summer meal programswhen classes are not in session;
- Need to break down barriers to SNAP participation and understand what changescan be made within our control
- Need to increase people’s awareness of the nutrition assistance programs, theirintent, and the health benefits derived from them.
A coalition composed of community based organizations, schools, government agencies and local leaders will implement the following strategies to improve participation and coordination among the programs.
- Solicit and use student input relative to menus, the selection of food items, and food preparation techniques. Their input must adhere to USDA nutrition requirements; however, the intent is to make modifications that are healthy and will serve to motivate students to consume the food.
- Work with the coalition to further investigate barriers to SNAP participation thatcan be addressed by the group and develop strategies targeting SNAPaccordingly.
- Use local radio and print media to inform the public about the USDA nutritionassistance programs and the health benefits that they provide.
The Nutrition Assistance Programs focused on in St. Francis County are: USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the School Breakfast Program (SBP); the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); and, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).