Promote Healthy Eating Among Homeless Youth with This Practical Toolkit

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A young woman holds a lunch tray full of healthy fruits and vegetables.

When you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping each night, cooking a nutritious meal may seem out-of-reach. Indeed, even homeless individuals with a safe place to stay may lack the tools, appliances, and funds they need to prioritize healthy eating.

Recognizing these challenges, the Sacramento Hunger Coalition created the Homeless Nutrition Education Toolkit for service providers working with people experiencing homelessness. The 94-page resource offers a basic background in nutrition education, as well as creative tips for selecting and preparing food in a variety of settings.  Although the guide wasn’t written specifically for runaway and homeless youth providers, we think many of the suggestions still apply.

Here are some of the toolkit highlights:

  • Five nutrition education lessons. Each lesson plan contains detailed instructions for addressing food access and cost, two main obstacles to healthy eating. For example, in a lesson about smart shopping, students visit a grocery store they’re familiar with and compare the prices of its store and name brands in several aisles.
     
  • Resources for emergency food providers. The toolkit also features materials designed to educate emergency food providers like food banks on how they can offer healthier options. Recommendations include asking donors to fulfill a "wish list" of nutritional food items, starting a community garden, and partnering with local farms to buy produce at reduced prices.
     
  • Other nutrition education resources. To help agencies deliver their lesson plans, Sacramento Hunger Coalition assembled a number of resources to help instructors build their nutritional knowledge. Toolkit users can access a list of foods that may ease the symptoms of certain health conditions, for example, or learn the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates in the available nutrition glossary.

More on Nutrition

Ask NCFY: Nutrition Programs Can Help Homeless Youth and Young Moms

Homeless Youth Under 18 Can Apply for Food Assistance, and Other Clarifications of SNAP Regulations

Cultivating Fresh Produce and Youth Leadership in the Garden

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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