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Train the Trainer

The great news about community based nutrition education is that you do not always need professional “experts” to provide effective nutrition education. In fact, sometimes it may be advantageous for the messenger of nutrition education to be someone that is intimately familiar with the community and people living within the community. At the same time, it is critical that people sharing the nutrition education message within communities have the appropriate tools, training, resources and support to make this approach successful.

The Train the Trainer model allows experts to share their nutrition knowledge, resources and tools with people providing direct services within communities. Empowering people within the community with the appropriate knowledge and skills to help their peers can be an effective and sustainable approach. Train the Trainer is well received by people served because information is delivered by their own peers in a relevant and practical way. A few examples of this can be seen in the Promotores and Community Health Workers. The American Public Health Association states, “A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. A community health worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.”

Many community organizations, including food banks, use this model by utilizing food bank staff to train partner agency leaders and volunteers, the people who are on the front lines in their communicates. “Agency Universities” help to provide training and tools that allows their member food pantry, soup kitchen and meal program staff distribute more effective information on issues such as nutrition education, food distribution, food safety and even advocacy.