Nutrition program impacting 3,700 youth in Johnson County

May 3, 2013

Pick a Better Snack
Contact: Rachel Wall,, 319-337-2145

It is a dreary May day outside, but inside Twain elementary students’ faces light up when they see Melissa Stahl walk down the hall. “It’s the Pick a Better Snack lady,” students squeal as Melissa walks into their classroom. Melissa and her colleague, Lisa Yoder, are nutrition educators for the Pick a Better Snack program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO), Johnson County.

The Pick a Better Snack program highlights the importance of healthy choices and gives elementary students the opportunity to be brave and try a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables including spinach, mangos, and even jicama. Of the many positive student comments, one student noted, “My favorite class is Pick a Better Snack because we can be healthy,” while another shared, “I want to be the Pick a Better Snack lady when I grow up.”

Melissa and Lisa travel around the county, visiting elementary students and highlighting the importance of healthy choices, including eating fruits and vegetables, exercise, moderation, and goal setting. Each week students are encouraged to “be brave” and try the fruit or vegetable being sampled. “The students, parents, and teachers find what we are presenting important and valuable. I have had schools, parents, and even an individual 1st grade student ask if they can help fund our program. We have amazing classroom teachers and students across the county and we have felt honored to be a part of their classrooms,” shares Yoder.

Over the course of this school year, Melissa and Lisa will have visited 21 schools and reached approximately 3,700 students. Teachers appreciate the program, with one remarking, “Many students mentioned picking a better snack and choosing an extra vegetable when going through the lunch line and continued to do so after the program ended.”  Parents have also noticed changes with one sharing, “My daughter is more aware of food choices. As we grocery shop she helps make smart food choices.”

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s nutrition and health programs are helping Iowa become the healthiest state in the nation and through K-12 outreach we are preparing our young people for the future. The Pick a Better Snack program helps our youth prepare for the future by highlighting the importance of healthy choices. To learn more about the Pick a Better Snack program and other educational programs offered through ISUEO Johnson County, please visit:

Pick a Better Snack is funded through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Johnson County, ACT, Fareway, Johnson County Community Foundation, University of Iowa Community Credit Union, Local Foods Connection, Oral B/Proctor and Gamble, HyVee, and MidWestOne Bank.

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