The Talbot County Community Plan (2016) identified “hunger programming focused on nutrition and self-sufficiency” as a strategy to turn the curve for children and their families experiencing hunger. The FY20 Community Plan Update confirmed the continued need to fund this program. According to Feeding America, 16.1% of Talbot's children were food insecure in 2017 (Map the Meal, 2017). Since 2010, the rate of participation in FARMs has steadily grown with a 13.7% increase to 49.7% in 2020-21. Food insecure children and families are less likely to have the knowledge required to make proper nutrition a priority, or the skills to leverage their limited food budgets in order to maximize healthy eating habits. (The Impact of Poverty, 2017) Nutrition is a key foundation to support maximum growth potential for children's bodies and brains. (Gundersen & Ziliak, 2014)
The Healthy Habits program works to reduce childhood hunger and move families towards safety and stability by providing self-sufficiency-based nutrition education and by exposing children and families in need to healthy foods. This sustainable strategy empowers children and families to transform their relationship with food and fight hunger in the present and in the future. Healthy Habits has been a well-performing program since FY 17.
STRATEGIES AND STRENGTHS
- All afterschool program staff are trained in Healthy Habits by Maryland Snap-Ed including use of online curriculum and videos.
- Program provider Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center (ChesMRC) focuses on relationships which helped to sustain strong student and family engagement during a difficult year of virtual schooling.
- Afterschool program adapted the program for a virtual format delivering materials and ingredients to each student household weekly.
- ChesMRC addressed connectivity gaps by providing internet access and Chromebooks with training to underresourced families in the afterschool program.