University of Minnesota Extension
Menu Menu

Extension >Family > Health and Nutrition > For Partners > Nutrition in Minnesota

minnesota filled with wild rice

For Partners

Nutrition in Minnesota

Hannah Jastram, Project Coordinator — Health and Nutrition

Revised November 2013 by author; reviewed by Houa Vue Her, Program Leader — Health and Nutrition.

Investing in nutrition education is more important than ever. We use community and public health approaches to improve nutrition among SNAP participants and other low-income Minnesotans. We target four audiences: adults, school-age youth, preschool-age youth and their parents, and older adults. Every year, we reach thousands of Minnesotans and make a real difference in their food choices.

Our Challenge

3 in 10

Minnesotan children were overweight or obese in 2007

Source: National Survey of Children’s Health, 2007

6 in 10

Minnesotan adults were overweight and obese in 2011

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2011

2 in 10

Minnesotan adults reported no leisure physical activity in 2009

Source: County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, 2009

Our Strategy

children eating lunch

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans uses the social-ecological framework to target various elements of society (USDA and DHHS, 2010). We use this public health approach to healthy eating and physical activity as a guide.

Individual Factors

We use direct and indirect education to strengthen individual knowledge and skills, with an emphasis on promoting self-efficacy in order to effect sustained behavior change. See Simply Good Eating, Cooking Matters® Minnesota, and I CAN Prevent Diabetes.

Environmental Settings

We work in a variety of community settings, including schools, senior citizen centers, and food shelves. See Farm to School, School Foodservice Training and Resources, Classroom Energizers, and Healthy Food Access.

Sectors of Influence

Our food systems and food access work operates in this arena. We collaborate with public health, foundations, agriculture, policy makers, and others to work on projects such as Minnesota Food Charter.

Social and Cultural Norms and Values

Factors such as belief systems, heritage, lifestyle, and body image contribute greatly to eating patterns. We address these factors when we work with communities of New Americans, for example, to develop healthier recipes for traditional foods. Read our research: Nutrition for the Underserved.

Our Impact

More than 1/3 cup
  The average increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables by participants in our SNAP-Ed courses
Up to $10
  How much every dollar spent on nutrition education saves in long-term public health care costs (University of Wisconsin, 2010)
  Number of adults and children reached by University of Minnesota Extension Health and Nutrition staff (University of Minnesota, 2011)


Simply Good Eating Impact 2012 (751 K PDF) — Evaluation facts and figures on who was served and how behaviors changed.

Your Turn

We all have a part to play in improving the health of Minnesotans.

Take Action

Legislative Action CenterFood Research and Action Center — Priorities and messages to use with your legislators.

Voice of Hunger Advocates NetworkHunger Solutions Minnesota — A citizens’ network working to end hunger in Minnesota.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy — IATP works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farms, and trade systems.

Other Resources

Nutrition for the Underserved: The Implications — Summary reports for focus groups conducted on our Nutrition Education Programs.

State Level Food System IndicatorsThe Food Industry Center — Comprehensive food system indicators that can be readily access, updated, and compared across locations and overtime.

Food Environment Atlas Economic Research Service — Maps 90 indicators of the US food environment.

Food and Nutrition ServiceU.S. Department of Agriculture — FNS works with public, private, and non-profit partners to increase food security and reduce hunger by providing children and low-income people access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education.

Kids Count Data CenterThe Annie E. Casey Foundation — Access hundreds of measures of child well-being in Minnesota.

Minnesota County Health RankingUniversity of Wisconsin — Ranks counties by health outcomes and health factors.

Take Action: End Senior HungerMeals on Wheels Association of America — Senior Hunger Research and rankings of senior hunger issues.


National Survey of Children's Health. (2007). Child health measures: Indicator 1.4 — BMI for age. Data query from the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health website.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. (2011). Weight classification by body mass index (BMI). Data query from the Prevalence and Trends data, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. (2009). Health factors: Health behaviors — Physical inactivity. Data query from County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute website.

U.S. Department of Agriculture & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010.

University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. (2010). The public value of nutrition education. Nutrition, Food, and Health, Family Living Programs, University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension website.

University of Minnesota. (2011). Nutrition Education Programs. Health and Nutrition, Family Development, University of Minnesota Extension website.

  • © 2014 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy