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(PA SNAP-Ed) / EAT RIGHT PHILLY Team Has Another Banner Year

November 22, 2021

The Eat Right Philly nutrition team sitting as a group outdoors in front of a tree and building.

The Drexel University's Department of Nutrition Sciences’ Pennsylvania Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (PA SNAP-Ed) / EAT RIGHT PHILLY team  provided quality nutrition education to participants this year, despite the challenges of 100 percent virtual learning in the midst of the pandemic. The work of the team resulted in measurable impact on participants' ability to adopt healthy lifestyles. This year the team of nutrition professionals provided education and interventions to over 16,000 students and adults in 80 schools and community sites in Philadelphia. More telling than numbers, however, may be when one of our nutrition coordinators was thrilled to receive a picture from a student very proud of the dish she made for her family from one of the lessons taught virtually!

The team has continued their effort toward the goal of improving the health of our participants. We thank each of the team members, led by Judy Ensslin, MS, program director, for their hard work and dedication that makes the PA SNAP-Ed/ EAT RIGHT PHILLY Program a success.

Two youth decorating water bottles at an outdoor event.This year the EAT RIGHT PHILLY team developed a new curriculum series called the DRAGON project, which challenges students to Determine, Recognize and Achieve Goalsetting through Nutrition. The DRAGON project combines education lessons with personalized sessions in which students develop a project to allow them to become educators of their own community. The team has incorporated the most up to date research on behavioral change to develop this new program which will be piloted in the next year, with a plan to further evaluate it in the future.

This year the team also had its first peer-reviewed publication. “Efficacy of a Five-Lesson Nutrition Education Curriculum for High School Students Administered via PennsylvaniaSNAP-Ed Programming” was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Health. The curriculum was developed and tested by Drexel’s PA SNAP-Ed/EAT RIGHT PHILLY Program over many years and is now a part of the SNAP-Ed Toolkit, a national compilation of evidence-based interventions that are approved for use by SNAP-Ed implementing agencies.

In continuing efforts to increase evaluation of efficacy of the EAT RIGHT PHILLY interventions, the team worked with the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) of Philadelphia to evaluate efficacy of the 100 percent virtual program in select schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings indicated that despite challenges of virtual programming, the high school curriculum was effective in increasing produce consumption among participants.

Our staff continues to serve as preceptors to students from the College of Nursing and Health Professions Department of Nutrition Sciences’ Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics program. We are also proud of the opportunities we provide to gain valuable experiences working in the community by employing student nutrition educators from the Department of Nutrition Sciences, the School of Public Health, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Two people dressed up holding water bottles. One is dressed as a pea pod and the other, a bunch of grapes.Despite the challenges of the year, the EAT RIGHT PHILLY team has provided fun, engaging high-quality education that is appreciated by both participants and teachers in the School District of Philadelphia. Throughout the annual report are quotes and stories from this year’s programming that demonstrate some of the successes. One especially nice story came recently from the parent of a high school student—a mother who participated in School Advisory Council meetings throughout the school year. Our nutrition coordinator provided nutrition lessons for parents and caregivers during the meetings, and at the start of this school year, this mother greeted the EAT RIGHT PHILLY nutrition coordinator saying, “Now I eat healthier because of you and what I learned last year!”

Congratulations and thank you to the EAT RIGHT PHILLY Team!

Jennifer J. Quinlan, PhD
Professor and Interim Chair
Department of Nutrition Sciences and Department of Food and Hospitality Management