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Source: National 4-H Council news release

Studies show 16.2 million children in America live in households that lack the means to get nutritious food on a regular basis. Responding to this need, National 4-H Council and ConAgra Foods Foundation announced today a partnership that will equip more families to make healthy living a part of their everyday lives through nutrition education, cooking skills and grocery budgeting skills.

The initiative includes a $2 million gift from ConAgra Foods Foundation to develop the 4-H Food Smart Families program, which will begin by engaging 12,500 youth and their families in Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska and Washington.

According to a recent Tufts University study, researchers found that 4-H youth are more likely than their peers to have healthy eating and exercise habits. They are also three times more likely to actively contribute to their communities than that of their non-4-H peers.

The 4-H Food Smart Families program will engage 4-H teen leaders to serve as youth ambassadors and mentors to teach their peers, family and local community about proper nutrition. The program will allow the youth ambassadors to teach healthy living programs and lead community-wide events such as cooking workshops, grocery store tours and community dinners based on what they've learned.

"This important partnership with ConAgra Foods Foundation will empower 4-H youth, who are already driving positive health outcomes in their communities, to grow as leaders, deliver practical solutions to their families and improve their own healthy lifestyles in the process," said Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4-H Council. "There is a proven connection between obesity, hunger and nutrition. We will build the next generation of healthy living leaders to deliver a sustainable solution for confronting the obesity epidemic and hunger issues in their communities."

For more than three decades, obesity among children and adolescents has increased at an alarming rate. One in every three children is overweight or obese. And children from low-income and low-education households are three times more likely to be obese.1 The 4-H Food Smart Families program will help families make healthy lifestyle decisions beginning at the point of their grocery shopping experience and continuing to meal preparation in their kitchens.

"When we learned 4-H is part of the Cooperative Extension network, run by 109 land grant universities that reach every county across the country, we knew this team had the potential to test, build and scale a program that would impact more families with the food skills they need to flourish,"
explained Kori Reed, vice president Cause, ConAgra Foods Foundation.

"The combination of university rigor around research and measurement, Cooperative Extension's depth of experience in family and consumer science, and 4-H's reach of more than 6 million youth and many more volunteers makes this partnership ideal to pilot Food Smart Families and then expand the program nationally," said Reed.

Through an online community, families across all five states will have the opportunity to interact with one another, access tips on nutrition and budgeting, share photos displaying their healthy eating habits and participate in fun contests. During the first year, Council will evaluate the program and later replicate the program to reach youth and families nation-wide.

The program will ultimately equip families with healthy living skills and education that will translate into lasting behavior changes and improve their future.

To learn more about 4-H Food Smart Families, visit

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