(State press release) The next time you’re out travelling the highways and byways of Tennessee, you might just see more than some beautiful scenery. You may get a friendly reminder to make healthy food choices and eat a healthier diet.
The Tennessee Nutrition and Consumer Education Program (TNCEP) is launching a billboard campaign across the state. The campaign uses peer-developed messages to promote healthy eating for caregivers of school-age children, with an aim to improve healthy food choices in the home. The campaign focuses on four themes, “Better Food Now Means Better Health,” “Healthy Eating Can Be Budget Friendly,” “Healthy Eating Can Be Simple” and “Healthy Eating Makes You Feel Good.”
“Research has shown that tailored messages are more effective than non-tailored messages when seeking to change behavior, both in diet and physical activity,” said Chris Sneed, a University of Tennessee Extension specialist in the Family and Consumer Sciences department and acting director for TNCEP.
TNCEP is a nutrition education program for individuals and families who participate or are eligible to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). UT Extension provides SNAP-related education through TNCEP. The goal of TNCEP is to help participants learn how to choose and prepare healthy foods and feel empowered to move toward self-sufficiency.
A Knoxville public relations firm conducted focus groups among the target clientele and found that the participants wanted information through simple messages that would help improve the health of the children in their care. “We had nine counties participate in the focus group research, and 108 participants were interviewed for 90 minutes at each session,” said Sneed. “We recorded each response verbatim, omitting anything that would identify the respondents. We then were able to develop our messages,” he said.
The campaign will be rolled out in two phases, with the first phase already underway in eight Tennessee counties; Knox, McMinn, Sullivan, Bedford, Putnam, Wilson, Shelby and Montgomery. Phase two will launch around the end of June in the same counties.
“In addition to the billboards, we’re also focusing of other communications venues such as posters in community agencies and social media,” said Sneed. “At the end of the campaign, our public relations firm and billboard company will gather data to estimate how many people saw the messages and we will then conduct telephone interviews to gauge the impact,” Sneed said.
The campaign is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) under an agreement with the State of Tennessee.