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Collaborating to Teach Integrated Nutrition and Budgeting Classes

By Sharmyn Phipps & Gloria Wolf, SNAP-Ed Educators; and
Sarah Louise Butler & Shawna Faith Thompson, Financial Empowerment Educators

Personal financial education and SNAP-Ed programming go together like lettuce and tomato. A lesson in personal finance within the typical series of SNAP-Ed nutrition classes gives SNAP recipients tools and strategies to maximize making healthy decisions around food and money.

Read on for two examples of how the integration of these two programs enhanced Minnesotans’ learning.

Smart Shoppers in Carver and Scott Counties

In February 2016, SNAP-Ed Educator Gloria Wolf and Financial Capability Educator Shawna Faith Thompson began partnering to bring a new class session to SNAP participants in Carver and Scott counties attending SNAP-Ed classes.

woman holding a head of cabbage and headshot of second woman
Gloria Wolf and Shawna Faith Thompson.

Titled “The Smart Shopper,” this lesson is based on the SNAP-Ed curriculum for English Language Learners (ELL) and focuses on nutrition, meal planning, and budgeting skills to stretch SNAP dollars. Shawna introduced budgeting concepts to help participants make informed decisions and save money at the grocery store and at home. Gloria covered nutrition concepts in the other lessons in the series.

The first group of “Smart Shopper” classes was taught to women registered in the Parent, Adult, and Child Education (PACE) Literacy Program in Shakopee. Participants learned about making a budget plan, coupon clipping, shopping with a list, and the value of tracking what they spend. They also learned the difference between wants and needs.

The instructors report that the women were very engaged and the classes were well received by both the ELL teachers and participants. One woman shared the information she learned with her husband and they had a discussion about the family finances together. Gloria and Shawna will continue to deliver these classes in partnership going forward.

Vocab and Visuals in Dakota County

In February 2016, SNAP-Ed Educator Sharmyn Phipps partnered with Burnsville Independent School District 191 Community Education for Adults and with Financial Empowerment Educator Sarah Butler for a series of nutrition and personal finance education classes that would meet the competency needs for an ELL audience.

headshots of two woman
Sharmyn Phipps and Sarah Butler.

Sharmyn and Sarah taught lessons designed to fit for the ELL instructor’s healthy meal planning, budgeting, and stretching food dollars components. Basic vocabulary words were shared with the teacher and participants before classes began, and worksheets were left with the teacher to review and reinforce the lessons after each class. Visuals and hands-on activities provided participants with experiential learning experiences.

An example of the shopping vocabulary used in class.

One well-received set of visuals Sarah used were the “Wants vs. Needs” cards in English and Spanish. The cards include words to prompt discussion about distinguishing whether expenses are wants or needs. The cards will be translated in Somali for future use due to the large number of Somali-speaking students in the Burnsville school district. Sharmyn carried the wants and needs concept into the following lesson on grocery shopping with a plan versus impulse buying.

The ELL teacher said her first collaboration with Extension was a significant benefit to her class and academic goals. She is committed to using University of Minnesota Extension as a resource for future classes.

Interested in maximizing the ability of the people you serve to make healthy decisions around food and money? Contact Financial Capability to discuss how you might incorporate personal finance education into your nutrition education.

More about SNAP-Ed

University of Minnesota’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) team helps low-income individuals and families who are eligible for SNAP benefits or other federal assistance programs. Learn more here: SNAP Education (SNAP-Ed).

More about Financial Capability

University of Minnesota Extension educators provide personal finance education to low income individuals and families, as well as employees at community organizations and other institutions throughout the state. Learn more here: About Financial Capability.
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