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Extension > Family > Health and Nutrition > Signature programs and special projects > Building better food shelves > Promoting Healthy Eating at Food Shelves > Promoting Healthy Eating at Food Shelves > Enlist Volunteers' Help

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Promoting Healthy Eating at Food Shelves


Enlist Volunteers' Help

Sally Dover and Kelly Kunkel, Extension Educators — Health and Nutrition

Revised December 2014 by Kelly Kunkel, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition.

Volunteers can be important allies in promoting selection of fresh produce and other healthy foods at your food shelf. Use them wisely.

What You Can Do Today

Empower volunteers to assist clients in selecting healthy foods. Talk to them at the start of their shifts about their role in encouraging healthy eating, and why it's important. Remind volunteers to speak positively about healthy foods regardless of their personal experience or preferences. For example, a volunteer who dislikes broccoli could reassure clients who feel the same by saying something like: "I've heard several people say they like it roasted, and kids seem to prefer it when you sprinkle a little cheese on top or pair it with mac and cheese."

Ideas in Action: Prime, Remind, Support

Train volunteers to "prime, remind, and support" clients to choose, prepare, and eat healthy foods. Here's how this strategy works:

This strategy is useful whether your food shelf offers clients a choice-based shopping experience or includes healthy options in boxes or bags of food prepared ahead of time. Even when clients get pre-boxed or bagged foods, a volunteer's words can have an effect on which foods they prepare and eat at home.

Related resources

Broc and the Systems (VIDEO (6:37) — What happens when a happy, healthy family steps outside their home? This video explores the systems that Minnesota families interact with on a daily basis and those systems’ influence on decision-making.

Cooking Matters® Minnesota — Hands-on, cooking-based nutrition education programs that help low-income families prepare healthy meals.

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