In Texas, nearly 13% of households have incomes that are at or below the federal poverty level and one in eight Texans, which is nearly four million individuals, experience food insecurity. Also, 36-percent of adults and 33-percent of youth are overweight or obese which can lead to chronic disease. Through the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Better Living for Texans (BLT) program, our vision and mission are to create opportunities and change lives by providing research and evidence-based nutrition, health and wellness knowledge to empower individuals, families, and communities to make positive changes for healthier lives.
Through partnerships with local agencies, organizations, and schools, the BLT program, also known as the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), has provided community nutrition education and resources to Texans since 1994. As a collaborative effort, funding for this program comes from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). It is offered in more than 200 counties across Texas at no cost for adults and youth that receive or are eligible to receive SNAP benefits.
The BLT program offers in-person, virtual, and online programming options for participants of all ages. The focus areas include basic nutrition to make healthy food choices with an emphasis on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, healthy meal preparation on a limited budget, how to grow their own foods through gardening programs, steps to keep food safe, and information to increase physical activity. Through the application of knowledge, the program creates high-quality, relevant continuing nutrition education that encourages lasting and positive behavior change of both youth and adult participants.
In addition to the positive impacts of nutrition education, communities are strengthened through policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes. By networking and working with local coalitions, community needs are identified and lead to establishing new partnerships across Texas. Through BLT, the program is able to provide resources and support to build school and community gardens or provide information on container gardening to grow food at home. These systems and environmental changes increase gardening knowledge, confidence, and access to fruits and vegetables for healthier behavior change and promotes food security.
More choices in Disease Prevention
The Texas 4-H Family & Community Health Program provides a variety of resources and opportunities to learn about nutrition, interior design, consumer education and more.
The 10-10,000 Change Challenge is a premiere program from the Family & Community Health unit to develop an active lifestyle that meets physical activity recommendations for general health and chronic disease prevention
Balancing Food & Play (grades 3rd-5th) was developed to address children’s health issues by developing lifelong healthy behaviors through nutrition, physical activity, and family engagement.
Health Talk Express looks to raise awareness about chronic disease reduction. These programs challenge the audience to practice a health-promoting behavior to lower disease risk.
Scrub Up, Tune Up is part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Family and Community Health Unit program with efforts in infectious disease prevention.