Teaming up With 4-H to Address Food Insecurity and Childhood Obesity

Since 2011, UnitedHealthcare’s partnership with National 4-H Council has delivered healthy-living programs to more than 340,000 children and families in 14 states across the country. 4-H’s expertise in community-based education and engagement, and its presence in communities throughout the country, make it an ideal partner to address hunger and obesity at the local level.

UnitedHealthcare and 4-H deliver food budgeting and nutrition education through the Food Smart Families program. The program:

  • Addresses food insecurity and childhood obesity.
  • Helps children and families eat healthier.
  • Engages teens as 4-H Teen Health Ambassadors.
  • Distributes healthy food to participating families and teaches them new cooking skills.
  • Refers families to SNAP, WIC and other food safety-net programs to help alleviate hunger.

To date, Food Smart Families has reached 43,000 children and families, distributed more than 14,000 bags of food to participants and provided 22,000 referrals to food safety-net programs. UnitedHealthcare and 4-H have big goals. By extending the partnership, Food Smart Families will train an additional 200 teens as 4-H Teen Health Ambassadors; educate an additional 50,000 children and families about healthy food choices and budgeting strategies; distribute 26,000 bags of food to participating families and provide 25,000 referrals to SNAP, WIC and other food safety-net programs to help alleviate hunger.

Teens are the teachers in the Food Smart Families, and work to provide communities with nutrition, food budgeting and meal-preparation programming; engage families through events; and address the social determinants of health by providing referrals for government nutrition benefits and ingredients for healthy dishes.

“As many of us are 4-H alumni, volunteers, donors and advocates, we’re grateful for the opportunity to continue our partnership on this important effort to bring food and nutrition education to the people we are privileged to serve,” said Austin Pittman, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, and trustee on the National 4-H Council board of directors.