Pick a better snack™

Iowa Department of Public Health


The Pick a better snackTM is a direct education and social marketing program that brings nutrition educators into kindergarten through third-grade classrooms once per month. Each month, educators share a nutrition lesson, introduce one new fruit or vegetable, and allow students to try it. Educators also lead the students in a classroom physical activity break. Family newsletters and health-themed BINGO cards are sent home to engage parents. If interested, teachers can also deliver five complementary Pick a better snackTM health lessons to their students throughout the year. The Pick a better snackTM marketing campaign targets children and their parents and caregivers. A sister campaign – Play Your Way. One Hour a Day. – is also used with the program to promote physical activity.

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: Direct Education, Social Marketing

Intervention Reach and Adoption

Pick a better snackTM targets students in grades K-3 and their families. It was originally developed to reach students and families in Iowa schools, but could be extended to both public and private schools in other states. Pick a better snackTM could also be expanded to out of school sites in both rural and urban areas, such as summer camps or other after school programs.

Setting: School, Community

Age: Elementary School, Parents/Mothers/Fathers

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

The primary component of the Pick a better snackTM program is a monthly nutrition education lesson delivered by a health educator. Each lesson introduces students to a new fruit or vegetable. The students learn about the fruit or vegetable in an interactive, age-appropriate manner. Finally, students sample the fruit or vegetable and receive a sticker to wear home about the fruit or vegetable they tasted. Students are also take home BINGO cards and family newsletters. Fruit and vegetable fact sheets are available for educators or classroom teachers.

Additionally, teachers can deliver complementary health education lessons throughout the year. These health lessons cover the following topics: the importance of fruits and vegetables, an introduction to MyPlate, milk consumption, and physical activity.

To market the Pick a better snackTM program, there are free social marketing materials on the Pick a better snackTM website. These materials include bookmarks, in-store signage, fruit and veggie photo posters, billboard advertisements, television advertisements, radio advertisements, print advertisements, recipe cards, and other editable files. Marketing materials for the companion campaign, Play Your Way, are also available for free on the website.

Intervention Materials

All materials needed for the implementation of the program and marketing materials are available online at no cost.

Evidence Summary

An evaluation of the Pick a better snackTM program by USDA called Wave II was administered in 2011-12 and reported in 2013. The full report can be found at http://idph.iowa.gov/inn/school-grants/educator-resources. Additionally, a journal manuscript on the program is at http://www.rti.org/newsroom/news.cfm?obj=618CC0D4-B65D-506F-1BC17D17FBE3E7EC. In summary, the results showed an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables (FVs) at home by children (as reported by parents) in intervention groups compared to those in the control group. The “Direct Education plus Social Marketing” intervention group increased consumption of FVs by 0.31 cups. Additionally, children participating in the “Direct Education plus Social Marketing” intervention group were 32% more likely than children in the control group to drink or use 1% or fat-free milk on their cereal instead of 2% or whole milk.

Classification: Evidence-based

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Short Term (ST) Medium Term (MT) Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual ST1ST3 MT1MT3
Environmental Settings
Sectors of Influence MT12

Evaluation Materials

Currently, no evaluation tools or materials are publicly available.

Additional Information

Website: The Pick a better snack TM website (http://idph.iowa.gov/inn/pick-a-better-snack) includes a program overview, marketing materials, and classroom resources such as lesson plans, BINGO cards, family newsletters, and fruit and vegetable fact sheets.

Contact Person:
Suzy Wilson, RDN, LD
Iowa Nutrition Network School Grant Coordinator
321 E. 12th St., Des Moines, IA  50319
Phone: (515) 725-1254
Email: Suzy.wilson@idph.iowa.gov