OSU Extension becomes a leader in bilingual nutrition education in Jackson County

Two girls smile as they get ready to eat a school lunch at Kids Ulimited Academy charter school.

In Jackson County, 13.2% of the residents identify as Hispanic, Latino or Latinx. Oregon State University Extension Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) prioritizes finding culturally competent ways to engage Spanish-speaking youths, families and adults. Translating materials, programs and marketing materials into Spanish increases access and creates meaningful educational opportunities in Jackson County. To be more inclusive in nutrition education programs, SNAP-Ed staff who are fluent in both English and Spanish collaborate with community agencies that are respected and trusted in the Latino community.

Jackson County’s two bilingual SNAP-ED program assistants foster key partnerships with the Oregon Child Development Coalition (OCDC), OCDC Family Daycare Homes, OCDC Child and Adult Care Food USDA Programs, the Childcare Resource Network (CCRN), Kids Unlimited Academy public charter school and Jackson Elementary School. Eighty percent of the students at Kids Unlimited Academy are Latino, and 25% are in the federal Migrant Education Program. More than 50% of Jackson Elementary’s students are Latino, and the school has a dual-language immersion program.

SNAP-Ed staff teach nutrition education in both English and Spanish at Kids Unlimited Academy and Jackson Elementary. SNAP-Ed staff collaborated to translate the BE Physically Active 2Day (BEPA 2.0) leaders’ guide into Spanish. SNAP-Ed also engages with students enrolled in the Medford School District Summer Migrant Education enrichment program.

Nutrition education and resources are offered to Spanish-speaking adults in Jackson County, as well, through the bilingual Eat Smart, Be Active, and Cooking Matters for Childcare Professionals series. Food Hero is a statewide initiative of the Oregon SNAP-Ed program and was developed by OSU Extension in English and Spanish. Each year, SNAP-Ed provides a Food Hero recipe and resource training in Spanish to about 60 childcare providers with Child and Adult Care Food USDA Programs. Grocery store literature racks are maintained at two stores with Food Hero newsletters to reach English and Spanish-speaking consumers.

As a result of this work, through partnerships and relevant programming, SNAP-Ed in Jackson County has successfully offered inclusive and meaningful outreach to Spanish speakers. Leveraging and building community partnerships has been an essential key to informing and recruiting Latinx and Spanish speakers to Extension programs. The county’s Latino community is beginning to recognize OSU Extension as a leader in nutrition education programs offered in both English and Spanish.