ERIC Number: ED483235
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Apr
Nutrition Education: USDA Provides Services through Multiple Programs, but Stronger Linkages among Efforts Are Needed. Report to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, U.S. Senate. GAO-04-528
Bellis, David D.
US General Accounting Office
To help improve nutrition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides nutrition education through five of its programs: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP); Food Stamp Program (FSP); Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); National School Lunch Program (NLP); and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). In 2002, it spent $472 billion on such efforts. This study examined key actions that officials took to increase the likelihood of success in nutrition education and looked at whether USDA and state and local officials took these actions during program design, service delivery, and program monitoring and evaluation. Researchers interviewed experts in the field of nutrition education research, reviewed key research on the topic, and reviewed GAO reports and other documents on performance-based management. They interviewed officials from each of the five programs and reviewed program reports and studies. They also interviewed state and local officials from each of the programs in three states, conducted site visits in Maryland and California, and conducted telephone interviews with Michigan officials. Finally, they identified and reviewed studies and evaluations of the programs? nutrition education efforts that were conducted over the last 10 years. Results indicated that there were several key actions, based on research and performance-based management principles, that increased the likelihood that programs would achieve their goal (e.g., identifying program goals, tailoring services to meet participant needs, and collecting data on program results). The actions could be taken during program design, delivery, and monitoring and evaluation. The programs generally incorporated the key design actions likely to contribute to success. However, programs? administrative structures hindered coordination among USDA nutrition education efforts. Programs incorporated the service delivery actions likely to cont nutrition education in different ways and to varying extents, but they faced similar challenges affecting their ability to fully incorporate the actions (e.g., limited resources and systems). USDA?s nutrition education efforts did not fully incorporate the monitoring and evaluation actions that contribute to success, such as collecting data on types of nutrition education provided and outcomes of the efforts. Three appendixes present the study scope and methodology, nutrition education goals of key USDA programs, and GAO contacts and staff acknowledgements.
Descriptors: Nutrition Instruction, Food, Health Promotion, Federal Programs, Program Effectiveness, Program Evaluation, Program Development, Agency Cooperation, Delivery Systems
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 441 G Street NW, Room LM, Washington, DC 20548. Phone: (202) 512-6000, TDD: (202) 512-2537, Fax: (202) 512-6061.
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC.